Alabama: Grants For Small Businesses

If the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced your company’s revenue in 2022, you might qualify for an Alabama small business cash grant. Companies that have been seriously impacted can apply for a small business grant.

In addition to more than $10 billion in federal grants and $7.6 billion in local grants, over a majority of the federal budget is put into the business sector yearly as small businesses and large corporations form the backbone of the Alabama economy. There are 77,035 business establishments in the state of Alabama. Small business grants may also be available to farmers. According to the federal government, the state of Alabama is home to over 49,000 farms.

The process of starting and managing a small business from the ground up is not an easy one in Alabama. There is about $56.97 billion paid in the state of Alabama in employee salaries and payrolls, and more than 34,932 businesses declare bankruptcy yearly. Despite the federal government not providing grant funding options for starting and expanding a business publicly, in Alabama, some small business grants are available for entrepreneurs wanting to start and expand their ventures. Grant recipients do not have to pay back the government for the funds they receive. Therefore, it makes sense for you to consider small business grants as a way to fund your business in the best way possible.

What Is a Grant?

Generally, a grant is an award of money or resources given to a nonprofit organization or a business entity to help the community create something new. Grants may be used to launch a new product, service, or project. Unlike loan programs, a grant does not need to be repaid. The benefit of grants for small businesses is that they do not require repayment, so they are a good option.

Grants, though time-consuming, can be a useful tool to help your business grow, regardless of how difficult the process of applying for and administering grants is. For most competitive grants, the application process can take quite a long time to complete. It is extremely important to prove to the lending body that you can meet its requirements regarding applying for a grant for your small business and that your company has the resources to build a successful business. Governments, charitable organizations, and foundations typically administer various grant programs.

Alabama Small Business Grants

Alabama residents have the opportunity to apply for small business grants for a variety of purposes. You may be interested in applying for one of the Alabama grants listed below.

Business Start-Up and Expansion Grant

To foster entrepreneurship through a partnership of Alabama A&M, Auburn, and Tuskegee Universities, the Virtual Entrepreneurship Center (VEC) has announced a program called the Business Start-Up and Expansion Grant. This program meets two potential needs in the business community. Capital startup grants are microgrants offered to entrepreneurs, small businesses, Black entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizations to assist in the capital costs of forming a business, company, or non-profit organization. Furthermore, as part of the expansion program, grants will be awarded to existing businesses to enhance their operations or purchase additional equipment or supplies to enhance their business.

You will first need to become a certified expert member of the VEC. Applicants must enroll and complete the online entrepreneur certification program for no charge before applying for a grant. Earning a VEC certificate serves several important purposes. You can complete the entire program in less than a month. It includes a broad range of topics related to starting a business, including key issues and strategies. The program focuses on developing specialized skills with knowledge relevant to successful entrepreneurship to achieve success.

Through the VEC’s online certificate program, you can access your education at any time of the day or night. The program does not need to interfere with the schedules of people with business, personal, or family obligations. Interested participants are encouraged to visit the VEC website for further information about the program. Under the Grant Program tab, users will find a detailed description of the certification process, which leads to a link that will enable them to apply for a grant. Unlike other forms of self-training, this process is fast, effective, flexible, and designed for those with limited time to devote to self-training programs. In addition to written materials, multi-media presentations, and related web links, the user can also find information on a range of topics prepared and delivered by experts in the business.

Urban Impact

Urban Impact, a Birmingham-based MWBE business support organization, assists MWBE-owned businesses in Birmingham. They provide a range of financial assistance, such as Kiva Loans, microfinancing, grants, low-interest loans, and other assistance. Furthermore, small and micro-sized businesses are also given access to help develop their business plans, counseling services, and other resources through entrepreneur training.  

Black Belt Incubator Network

The network of Black Belt Incubation Centers covers all of Alabama. As part of the program, the goal is to help businesses owned by people of color gain access to resources such as grants, low-interest loans, and capital. Aside from universities, they also partner with development centers, minority-owned businesses, Alabama Power, Black entrepreneurs, and others. Their array of services is unique and comprehensive.

Deep South Economic Mobility Collaborative

Birmingham and Montgomery, in Alabama, have partnered with Hope Enterprise Corporation and Goldman Sachs (and other companies) to help small businesses owned by black people in those jurisdictions. Consequently, they created a collaboration between the two. Various assistance options are available, from technical assistance to low-cost loans, mentoring, workshops, or class sessions on business education, etc.

Catalyst Center 

A business incubator in Huntsville, Alabama, called the Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship, can help women-owned businesses in Huntsville and Clanton. Among the free services provided are coaching, marketing tips, website and SEO development, accounting, and other services that small businesses (or entrepreneurs) are in need of (or want). Business women, minorities, and black-owned businesses can find out how to obtain government contracts, information on loan programs and funding options, access to funding, and a variety of other tools at this site. Veteran entrepreneurs are also provided with business development programs.

The Community Foundation

There is a wonderful program called The Community Foundation, which provides year-round assistance to small businesses in Jefferson County and Birmingham, particularly disadvantaged small businesses. It provides financial assistance to underserved female entrepreneurs, Black entrepreneurs, minorities, veterans, LGBTQ, and disabled companies. The information ranges from free grants provided by charities to details on mentoring, loan programs, entrepreneur training, networking, and much more. In addition, they have a directory of grants and funds in the state of Alabama.

Paycheck Protection Program

As part of the American Rescue Plan, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was authorized an additional $7.25 billion, and more categories of organizations were considered to be eligible businesses to access the program. It is designed to offer forgivable loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing additional funding for payroll expenses exceeding 60% of the available funds.

Many financial institutions offer PPP loans, including banks, credit unions, and other lenders. The government has provided financial assistance for businesses that were hard hit during the pandemic. There may also be financial assistance available in Alabama for minority businesses owned by Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, and other minorities. 

SBA Restaurant Revitalization Grant

The Small Business Administration of the federal government is authorized to assist women business owners, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, hotels, bars, tourist attractions, and other food and beverage establishments through the American Rescue Plan. This grant program will cost $28,6 billion. A maximum of $10 million cash prize may be granted per entity, which is determined by subtracting the 2020 revenues from the 2019 revenues. This fund can pay for various expenses, such as payroll, mortgages, rent, utilities, supplies, food and beverage costs, accrued sick leave, and other operational expenses. In the first 21 days of the application being open, priority will be given to providing assistance for restaurants owned and operated by women, veterans, and individuals with disabilities or socially or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The application procedure for this grant fund is yet to be developed. As more information becomes available, we will update this fact sheet, and we encourage you to visit SBA’s website (www.sba.gov) for the most up-to-date information.

Etowah Small Business Relief Grant

This program provides technical assistance and training to small rural businesses through rural business incubators. “Small businesses” refers to underserved businesses with fewer than 50 employees and gross revenues of less than $1 million. The Rural Business Development Grant program requires that grant money be used for projects that benefit rural areas or towns outside the urbanized areas of any city with more than 50,000 residents.

A maximum grant amount has not been set, but smaller grants are prioritized more than larger ones. There are no additional requirements to share the costs with other applicants. There is a limit of 10 percent of the total Annual Rural Business Development Grant funding available for cash grant opportunities. 

Small and emerging businesses in rural areas may use enterprise grants to participate in projects relating to their geographic location as specified in the grant application guides. Award recipients may use grants for the following purposes:

  • Training and technical assistance provide services such as project planning, business counseling, training, market research, feasibility studies, professional or technical reports, or improvements in producer services
  • Acquiring or developing land, easements, or rights of way; constructing, converting, or renovating buildings; constructing plants, machinery, and equipment; establishing access routes for streets and roads; and constructing parking areas and utilities
  • Steps to control and reduce pollution
  • Amounts used in capitalizing a revolving loan fund, including funds to finance startup and working capital loans
  • Adult learning by distance for career advancement
  • Transportation improvements in rural areas.
  • Economic development in the community.
  • The development of the technology-based economy 
  • Business plans and feasibility studies
  • Training for entrepreneurs and leaders
  • Business incubators for rural areas
  • Strategic planning for long-term success

Mobile County Grants 

A program for small business owners is being developed by the Mobile Area Chamber and the Mobile County Commission. Under the additional funding opportunities initiative spearheaded by Mobile County Commission, small businesses experiencing hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis can apply for up to $25,000 in funding, depending on their need.

Small Business Relief Fund

The Small Business Relief Fund is offered by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama in collaboration with the Community Foundation of West Alabama. As a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the fund was created to assist small businesses that have suffered financial hardship. Small businesses are an important part of what makes the community special. In return, they are helping them weather the storm by returning the favor. Tuscaloosa and West Alabama residents, companies, civic foundations, and government agencies contributed generously to this fund.

Award recipients must meet the following criteria:

  • Faced hardship resulting from COVID-19 
  • As of February 29, 2020, there must be less than 50 employees (FTE)
  • Good standing with state and local governments
  • The location must be in one of these Alabama counties: Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter, or Tuscaloosa

The applicant business must also hold a city business license and be physically located within the city limits to be eligible for funds from the City of Tuscaloosa’s Restart Tuscaloosa initiative.

Alabama Grant Watch

Visit the Alabama Grant Watch website for more information on Alabama’s non-profits and grants. More than 28,420 federal, state, and local grants are listed in this Alabama Grant Directory (some will be available within the next few days).

The information is only accessible to those with a paid subscription, which also requires payment. The subscription cost is $18 per week or $199 for the annual payment plan. A free membership offers limited access. Free members do not have access to grant details or can apply for them.

Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!