Top Small-Business Grants in Georgia

Georgia entrepreneurs may want to consider grants as a funding option for their businesses. Unlike business loans, grants typically don’t require repayment, but you will need to invest time and energy to apply for this free money. Some grants are city-specific while others are offered on a state or national level.

Here are some small-business grants available to Georgia businesses, plus a few tips on applying for them.

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Georgia small-business grants

Georgia Rural Business Development Grants

Available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Business Development Grants are designed to assist with economic development as well as the financing of rural businesses. Grant amounts generally range from $10,000 to $500,000. Nonprofit corporations, rural cooperatives, federally recognized tribes and other public entities are eligible for grants. Grant funds are to be used on projects that benefit small businesses such as training, technical assistance and rural business incubators. Applications are accepted until Feb. 28, 2024.

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants

Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program designed to support farmers and ranchers in southern states like Georgia and includes grants. Producer Grants are designed to help farmers and ranchers test sustainable agriculture ideas. The annual application process opens in September with grant amounts up to $25,000 awarded the following February.

Go Global Georgia grants

Go Global Georgia grants — offered through the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the U.S. Small Business Administration — provide funds to reimburse Georgia exporters for certain export activities. Export costs must be preapproved and include a range of activities including training programs, international travel costs for trade shows, export credit insurance premiums and more. Businesses must operate in Georgia, have been in business for at least one year and meet SBA size standards, as well as meet other eligibility requirements. This is an ongoing grant program with an application deadline of Sept. 1.

NAACP and Leslie’s Certification Boost Grant

The NAACP and Leslie’s Certification Boost Grant targets businesses located in five states, including Georgia. Like most NAACP grants, it is open to small businesses led by people of color, women and people with disabilities as well businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones. The $5,000 grants awarded can be used to help fund costs related to getting certifications and designations as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) and more. Applications for the 2024 cycle aren’t currently open.

Gusto Impact Award

Business owners in Atlanta may be able to access funding through the Gusto Impact Award, offered by Gusto, a payroll company. This grant awards a $10,000 cash prize, a $50,000 advertising package and a free year of payroll software to one business this year. To be eligible, businesses must have 75 or fewer employees, annual gross revenue of less than $7 million and be active for at least one year. The application window is open from Feb. 13 to March 14, 2024.

Cobb County Entrepreneurship Grants

The Entrepreneurship Grant Program, offered by the Cobb County Economic Development Office, is available to businesses located in the county. Grant amounts are up to $10,000 and can be used for marketing; the purchase of equipment, furnishings and technology; structure improvements and renovations; and operating funds. In addition to being a licensed Cobb County business, you must participate in an entrepreneurial program, commit to keep the business in the county and not have any outstanding debts with Cobb County.

Athens Downtown Development Authority grants

The Athens Downtown Development Authority (ADDA) offers several grants for businesses located in the city’s historic downtown area. Grants range from $5,000 to $10,000 and often require the business owner to provide 50% in matching funds. The Business Marketing Grant program, for example, with 50% matching reimbursements up to $5,000, provides funding to support logo design, web design, e-commerce, social media engagement and online marketing efforts. Applications are currently being accepted for this and other ADDA programs.

Atlanta Commercial Property Improvement Grant

Invest Atlanta, the economic development authority for the City of Atlanta, offers grants of up to $50,000 for small businesses in Atlanta. Atlanta Commercial Property Improvement Grant funds can be used for internal and external improvements to commercial businesses. The building size must be smaller than 15,000 square feet and awardees are required to provide matching funds of at least 10% of the award amount. The application intake process is closed, but you can sign up to receive updates on the reopening of the program.

National grant programs open to Georgia businesses

In addition to state-specific grants, there are many federal and private grant programs available to Georgia businesses.

Grants.gov

Grants.gov is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is a great resource for small businesses looking for funding. In addition to grant listings, you’ll find resources to help you during the application process. You can locate and apply for grants offered by federal agencies such as the Agency for International Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy and other federal agencies.

America’s Seed Fund

America’s Seed Fund, managed by the SBA, is an agency dedicated to small businesses. Grants from $50,000 to $1.8 million are through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs which receive funding from other federal agencies. These grants focus on innovation and technology and take a small business from proof of consent to commercialization of products.

Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs

The Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) is another funding option run through the SBA. PRIME grants are designed to help low-income entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses. Instead of grants being awarded directly to small businesses, PRIME awards go to nonprofit microenterprise development organizations and programs run by state, local and tribal governments. Then, these organizations work with microentrepreneurs to provide access to capital, training and technical assistance.

National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants

Growth Grants offered by the nonprofit National Association for the Self-Employed may be a good option for self-employed entrepreneurs in Georgia. Grant funds in amounts up to $4,000 can be used for marketing, business expansion, the addition of employees and other business purposes. To be eligible for the grants, you need to be a member of the organization and provide a business plan that explains the need for funds and how the grant will meet the need and help your business succeed. Grants are reviewed quarterly.

WomensNet Grants

WomensNet business grants are offered to women entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Three grants of $10,000 each are awarded each month for different types of businesses. Additionally, at the end of the year, separate $25,000 annual grants for each of the three categories are awarded. A single application allows you to be considered for all loan categories. Eligible women applicants must be 18 years or older and have a business with 50% women ownership. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Military Entrepreneur Challenge

For veterans, their spouses and Gold Star Family entrepreneurs, the Military Entrepreneur Challenge (MEC) may be a funding option. This business grant for veterans, run by the Second Service Foundation, is a three-part program that involves a coaching session and two pitch sessions with the opportunity to win funding. Grant amounts and other prizes vary by event. Applicants must be 21 or older and own at least 51% of the business, among other requirements.

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Resources for Georgia-based businesses

Here are some SBA-affiliated resources and other programs available to small businesses in Georgia.

Georgia Small Business Development Centers

University of Georgia Small Business Development Centers can be found in 18 locations across the state. Administered by the SBA, these centers offer services for new entrepreneurs as well as existing small-business owners. In-person and on-demand training programs, webinars and consulting services are available.

Grow Georgia

Grow Georgia offers support to minority-owned businesses in Georgia. Available business resources focus on business funding, networking, certifications and training, Fortune 500 contract opportunities and business expansion support.

Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce can be a source for consultations, seminars and workshops for the state’s Hispanic business community. It offers a variety of programs to its members including business development, leadership programs, business discounts.

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs

Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) is a nonprofit organization that offers financing and education to small businesses in Georgia. It focuses on people of color, women and low- to moderate-income business owners.

Metro Atlanta Chamber

For small businesses in Atlanta or those considering a move to the city, Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) can be a valuable resource to learn about the community as well as get information on Georgia’s tax structure and state and local incentives programs.

Startup Atlanta

The community nonprofit, Startup Atlanta is a resource for information on starting a business and networking with other entrepreneurs in the city.

SCORE

Although not specific to Georgia, SCORE is an SBA partner that offers online training classes as well as free business mentors. It can be a resource when you need help preparing business plans for the grant process or when applying for small-business loans.

Tips to managing the grant application process

Set aside time for grant activities

Grant activities take time. It can be helpful to block out time on your calendar to devote to researching grants and completing applications. Make note of application deadlines so you don’t miss them and also as a way to determine if you’ll have adequate time to prepare your submission. Because grants are competitive, you’ll want to submit a polished application that you’ve reviewed a number of times.

Be selective in your applications

Confirm eligibility requirements

Each grant has specific eligibility requirements. This may include factors such as business location, industry, number of employees and ethnicity or gender of owner. Reviewing these requirements before you apply will save time and effort.

Be realistic about winning

You are in competition with many other business owners for grant money and not everyone will be a winner. You may also want to consider other sources of funding such as SBA loans, traditional business bank loans and online loans. Bank and SBA loans will typically offer the best rates and terms, but qualifying can be challenging. Online loans tend to have more flexibility, but less favorable terms when compared with traditional financing.

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