Grants For Small Businesses in PA

A Pennsylvania small business grant might be available to you if the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced your company’s revenue. Small business grants can be applied for by companies that have suffered major impacts.

Over $27.36 billion in federal grants and nearly $21.80 billion in additional funding from the local government are put into the business sector yearly since small businesses, and large corporations are the foundation of Pennsylvania’s economy. The State of Pennsylvania is home to 232,755 businesses and over 63,000 farms.

Pennsylvania pays out a total of $209.78 billion in salaries and payroll annually, and over 38,816 businesses file for bankruptcy annually. Although the federal government does not publicly provide grants for starting and expanding businesses, in Pennsylvania, some small business grants are available to business owners to start and grow their ventures. Recipients do not have to repay the grants. As a result, you should consider small business grants as a funding source for your business.

What Is a Grant?

An award of money or resources is generally given to a non-profit or a business entity to create something new in the community. New projects, products, or services may be launched using grants. A grant is different from a loan in that it is not repaid. Grants are advantageous for small businesses since they are non-repayable, making them an excellent option.

Despite how complex grant application and administration may be, grants can be useful for growth, regardless of how time-consuming they are. Applying for and administering grants can take quite a long time. The lending body must be convinced that your business can meet its basic eligibility requirements regarding applying for a grant and that your company has the financial resources to succeed. Many grant programs are administered by government agencies, non-profit groups, and foundations.

Finding The Right Pennsylvania Small Business Grant 

Pennsylvania small business grants can be difficult to obtain, but familiarizing yourself with the grant application process will help you avoid some challenges. To assist you in navigating the grant application process, we provide you with a few tips.  

Create an Application Timeline

You cannot rush the process of submitting a grant application. It would help if you had a clear business plan to ensure your business stands out from the thousands of other applicants competing for free money.

You must allow yourself enough time to complete each application during the grant application process to avoid the hassle of rushing through the process. I believe you will need time to compile the necessary documents, edit your grant proposals, and think about how to communicate the unmet financial needs of your business. To organize all of these tasks and ensure you have the time to finish them, you can create a timeline for your application.

Write a Strong Grant Proposal 

Knowing how to write a strong grant proposal is the most important part of applying for grants. You can write anywhere from a few pages to a few hundred pages for a grant proposal. This allows them to understand better who you are and what makes your business different, so your grant proposal should be your number one priority.

Grant organizations will evaluate you to determine whether your proposal fits the organization’s mission, requirements, and scope and whether it is credible. Business grants are unlikely to be awarded if your proposal doesn’t meet the additional requirements.

Generally, grant proposals include the following elements: the title, summary, introduction, the need statement, goals, the project plan, project costs, the evaluation plan, the timeline, the sustainability plan, the budget, letters of recommendation, and the CV.

Avoid Grant Scams 

The number of scammers targeting desperate business owners is steadily increasing, so before applying for a grant, make sure you do your homework and research the organization or program. It would be best if you were wary of grant programs that seem too easy to qualify. You should avoid any grant program that asks you to enter sensitive information, such as banking information, and never give out personal information over the telephone. If you have been victimized, report a grant scam to the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

Pennsylvania Small Business Grants

Small business grant programs are available to Pennsylvania residents for a variety of purposes. Below are some Pennsylvania grants that may be of interest to you.

Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Grants

Every Pennsylvanian in every community has been affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) grant funds amount to $2.6 billion in the recently enacted state budget.

A total of $225 million has been allocated to the Department of Community and Economic Development for the benefit of small businesses via Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

Small businesses that COVID-19 has negatively impacted can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 through the Statewide Small Business Assistance program. Programs are not offered on a first-come, first-serve basis. This will be the last chance to apply for the program so the availability of funds can be possible.

Upon distribution of funds to DCED, the CDFI Network in Pennsylvania will administer the funding as follows:

  • For the duration of the shutdown and the transition period to reopening, grants to cover operating expenses are available.
  • Support for helping business owners stabilize and relaunch their businesses through grants that include training and guidance.
  • Borrowers of CDFI Pennsylvania receive relief from debt payments.
  • Reserves for CDFIs to protect against loan losses.

There are three ways to distribute the funds:

  1. Main Street Business Revitalization Program: $100 million
  2. Historically Disadvantaged Business Revitalization Program: $100 million
  3. Loan payment deferment and loss reserve: $25 million

Additionally, the program will take into account the following factors: women-owned businesses, communities whose businesses are targeted for investment through state government programs like Main Street and Elm Street, and rural communities.

Historically Disadvantaged businesses (HDBs) will be eligible for at least 50% of the grants made to small businesses. Historically disadvantaged businesses are at least 51% owned and operated by African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander businesses because historically, people from these groups have been discriminated against and disadvantaged when it comes to obtaining financial services.

Applicants must be referred to the program through an eligible CDFI and must meet program requirements, which, at a minimum, include:

  • Be physically located in Pennsylvania, be certified to do business there, and generate at least 51% of their revenue there.
  • COVID-19 will affect companies with less than $1 million in revenue.
  • Before February 15, 2020, you will have fewer than 25 full-time equivalents.
  • As of February 15, 2020, the business was operating and was required to pay income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual and business tax returns.
  • COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact on the applicant, which makes this grant request necessary to continue operating.
  • The grant will cover COVID-19-related costs.
  • Since June 1, 2020, the applicant has not been awarded another grant under this state program and will not be awarded another grant during that period.

Small Business Advantage Grant

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) protects Pennsylvania’s air, land, and water from pollution and strives to maintain a cleaner environment for the betterment of its citizens. Our team is committed to preventing pollution and restoring our natural resources through partnerships with individuals, organizations, governments, and eligible businesses.

The Pennsylvania DEP offers a program that offers additional funding commitments for energy efficiency improvements through its Small Business Advantage Grant program. The program is only available to businesses with fewer than 100 full-time personnel. Regarding energy conservation or pollution prevention, at least $500 must be saved, and 25 percent must be avoided annually. First-come, first-served online applications are considered for grant funding.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available through the Small Business Advantage Grant program for Pennsylvania small businesses to purchase energy-efficient equipment or engage in waste reduction practices.

Clean Energy Workforce Development Grant

Clean Energy Workforce Development Grants provide $2,500,000 to support the creation and growth of clean energy businesses. Increasing jobs, innovation, and environmental improvements are key potentials for the industry by the state. Five organizations in the industry will receive up to $500,000 to support training and growth. 

Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program

In 1992, Act 166 established the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) Program. The plan has been implemented to ensure energy security and develop alternative fuel markets in the state. Organizations and businesses planning to use alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles, or technologies related to this industry can apply for these grants. 

As part of the AFIG Program, Pennsylvania can create new markets for alternative fuels that will help enhance the state’s energy security. Much effort has been put into investing in alternative fuels and deploying alternative fuel vehicles, fleets, and technologies. Various projects are administered under the Alternative Fuel Incentive Grant program to promote and build markets for advanced, renewable, and alternative energy technologies for transportation. Its purpose is to provide funding opportunities to better manage Pennsylvania’s fuel resources, support economic development, protect the environment, and enhance the quality of life.

Philadelphia Empowerment Zone Grants

Business owners in Philadelphia’s Empowerment Zones receive grants to start or expand their operations. The Empowerment Zones program started in 1994 with support from the federal government. The city still offers a Neighborhood Funding Stream to businesses in underserved areas, even with the federal designation gone. Businesses & economic development projects can apply for funding. These grants are available in the American Street, North Central, and West Philadelphia neighborhoods and support specific improvement projects in each neighborhood. Each neighborhood’s Department of Commerce provides grant opportunities.

Philadelphia Storefront Improvement Program

Additional funding programs are available from Philadelphia for improvements to eligible storefronts, such as painting, windows, and doors, as well as lighting and signage. Applicants may be reimbursed up to 50% of the costs of the projects, up to a maximum of $10,000 per property. For multiple business developments, they may request up to $15,000. They may apply continually. Counselors are available to assist with the application form so that you may avoid application errors. Before launching a new project, businesses must obtain written approval from the government.

Pittsburgh Avenues of Hope Storefront Facade Grant Program

Grant funding of $12,000 is provided by Avenues of Hope for building facade improvements. The grants are available in specific neighborhoods. Businesses must contribute a minimum of 10% of the project’s cost. Money is distributed every quarter, with the next deadline coming up on July 31.

Schools-to-Work Program Grants

Businesses that provide workforce development opportunities for students will receive $2,500,000 from Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry. A minimum of one school in the commonwealth must partner with the applicants and provide apprenticeships or similar opportunities. The latest application round of funding has a March 15 deadline.

Very Small Meat Processor Grants

Under the Very Small Meat Processor Federal Inspection Reimbursement program, an operator within this commonwealth can obtain funding to reimburse a portion of the costs associated with meeting federal inspection and certification guidelines during their planning and start-up phases.

By increasing the number of meat processors approved by the USDA for the distribution of meat products, these grants will increase the supply of locally-produced meat products for local consumption.

Uses

A food processor is targeted to receive technical assistance or specialized advice from an experienced food safety specialist to complete the requirements to create a Federal Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan. Assistance is also offered as equipment necessary for implementing the plan and opening the business.

  • You will be refunded once for the direct costs of producing the required Federal Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan, excluding person-hours. Depending on how the Department determines the reasonable cost of a professional consultant’s services to create the Federal Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points Plan, that consultant may be reimbursed for reasonable costs.
  • It is possible to receive up to 50% of the actual costs of the equipment purchase necessary for complying with the Federal Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points plan for the first time.
  • Federal and State grants may not be used to pay wages or salaries, any in-kind contributions to the project, or any parts of the project that another business grant program has already reimbursed.

Eligibility

Eligible companies are small meat processors with sales of less than $2.5 million and no more than ten employees or newly formed companies that are planning to be very small.

Funding

Grants are limited to 50% or less of a project’s costs, with a maximum grant amount of $50,000.

Amber Grants for Women Businesses

Women business owners are offered a grant every month through the Amber Grants. Women entrepreneurs from across the country can apply for the Amber Grants for women businesses, although it is not limited to Pennsylvania. An additional grant of $25,000 will be awarded to one of the twelve grant winners at the end of the year.

Amber Grant applications are easy to complete. You must submit a short online application and pay a $15 application fee for your application to be processed. During the application process, you will need to provide information about your business and describe how you will use $10,000 and $25,000 of the end-of-year grant. It would be best if you answered all basic questions as comprehensively as possible, even though the application is short. You can research past Amber Grant winners for an idea of how your business can position itself best.

Fundera Zach Grant 

Zach Grants aren’t exclusively for Pennsylvania small businesses, but they’re another grant option for those in Pennsylvania. You must follow and like Fundera on Facebook before you can qualify for the $2,500 grant. In addition, a three-minute video explaining why you started your business has to be posted on your YouTube and social media profiles. The winners of the grants are selected based on their video quality, creativity, and originality.

Pennsylvania Grant Watch

With so many grant applications open and closing simultaneously, it can be not easy to track all the grant opportunities available to you. That is why Pennsylvania GrantWatch was founded. This website contains all current grant programs available to small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other entities. 

Grants from federal and state governments can be found on this website for free. Keeping track of new grant opportunities is easy with Pennsylvania GrantWatch, as it updates daily. 

This information can only be accessed by those with a paid subscription, which also requires payments. There is a subscription fee of $18 per week or $199 for the annual subscription plan. Free memberships are available with several restrictions. As a free member, you will not be able to see grant details and will be unable to apply for grants.

The Bottom Line

As it can take a while for a small business grant to be approved, you may want to investigate other options for small business loans while waiting for the grant to be approved. Throughout the state of Pennsylvania, small businesses can access various loan programs to help them start or grow their businesses. 

If you have difficulty securing Pennsylvania small business grants, you may consider extending your search beyond the state’s boundaries and considering grants in other states. Several grants are available to small businesses throughout the country, some specifically targeted at business owners from different and underrepresented backgrounds. 

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!