Business expansion grants offer the small business owner funds that do not have to be repaid, thus relieving the burden of debt repayment and the accompanying liability and expense for interest on the company balance sheet.
Grants to expand businesses are not usually available from the Federal government, but state governments often have departments that can access funds for grant opportunities. Business expansion grants may also be administered through state colleges, such as a program in New Mexico that is administered through New Mexico State University. Other state sources may be found under headings such as “Office of Economic Development”, “Small Business Development Council”, or “Office of Commerce and Economic Opportunity” (Illinois).
Other sources for business expansion grants are professional organizations. For example, the National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE) offers notice of grant opportunities after you become a member of the organization. Some organizations do not have an integral foundation that can directly provide grants, but maintain a notification service for funding.
If your business is a nonprofit, the opportunities for business expansion grants are far greater than found in the private sector. Typically, these grants are focused on increasing the scope or area coverage for your services (capacity building) and naturally support business expansion.
Business expansion grants rarely offer direct cash payments for operating costs, preferring to focus on providing funds for specific areas. For instance, if you are a taxicab company, you might apply for funds to build a service garage, and then approach another funder for funds to purchase a vehicle lift, or to purchase specialized tools. If you are a nonprofit, you might include the cost of a van to serve outlying areas as part of your capacity building vision.
Small business expansion grants may be restricted to certain types of businesses. Perhaps your company wants to expand internet service to a rural area via wireless connections. You would look not only for the keywords “business expansion” but also under headings for “rural”, or “internet provider”.
If your program, whether a nonprofit or a for-profit, offers value for many people (such as our hypothetical internet provider, above) it will be perceived more favorably by funders than if it benefits very few people. Business expansion grants that produce new, sustainable jobs are very well received by the entire grant funding community at this time.