In the prior posts of this series, I covered a variety of tools available to help provide financing for small business startup and growth. In this post, I'll introduce small business public sector funding resources.
The Acronym Soup of Small Business Financing
Public agency programs tend to speak a different language than business owners. They use as many acronyms as a soup has ingredients: There's USDA, HUD, EDA, VA, EPA, DOA, NASA, SBIR, PTAC, CDBG, RDBDG, DBE, SBIC, CDC, RDC and EWPC (to name but a few). The problem is that each of these resources offers valuable small business financing support to help you grow your business.
How to Make Sense of It All
There are a couple of ways to further investigate the types of public sector funding resources available and determine which ones might fit your small business financing needs. One is to connect with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). SBDCs are located in every state university and provide small business counseling that's free of cost. Another option is to visit the Business Utility Zone Gateway, which is a state-based directory of public sector funding resources as well as other public resources, such as free help with marketing, advocacy, government contracting, workforce development and more.
Public Sector Funding Sampling
There are literally thousands of different small business assistance resources available across the country. Here's a sampling of programs that are focused on providing help with small business financing:
- Research Grants
Small businesses engaged in scientific research and development may qualify for federal grants under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Learn more about these programs at www.sbir.gov/about.
- Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB)
Under the SDB programs, small businesses owned and operated by disadvantaged groups, such as racial minorities, women, service-disabled veterans and other socially or economically disadvantaged populations, may receive specialized counseling and business set-asides through the 8(a) program, HUBZone program, Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Procurement Program.
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Under certain criteria, individuals with disabilities may qualify for small business counseling and financial support through their state vocational rehabilitation and Social Security agencies. For veterans specifically, there is a national Vocational Rehabilitation program.
- State/Local Investment Agencies
Regional Development Corporations (RDC) and Community Development Corporations (CDC) offer lending programs that focus mainly on ventures that create local jobs and drive economic vitality.
The Bottom Line
In summary, your bottom line is relevant to the bottom line of America's economic and social vitality. With a little bit of effort, along with support through a local small business counseling public agency, you have many cost-free options to help you succeed at starting and growing a small business.
Read the rest of the series.
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