From family-run restaurants to minority-owned businesses, tech startups to manufacturing companies, Pennsylvania small businesses are present across diverse categories.
But do you know what’s the major challenge for these businesses?
Take a guess.
It is – obtaining funding resources for business growth.
To help solve this issue, we will discuss small business grants available in the state of Pennsylvania.
So, let’s dive straight into it.
Pennsylvania Small Business Grants
1. Alternative and Clean Energy Program (ACE)
ACE is a program for the utilization, development, and establishment of alternative and clean energy projects in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Uses: For activities to promote the utilization, development, and establishment of clean energy infrastructure including – compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG). The grants also help enable companies involved in energy conservation programs.
- Funding: $2 million or 30% of the total project cost, whichever is less to be granted for clean energy programs. Also, grant recipients would be granted $10,000 for every job projected to be created by the manufacturers of alternative fuels equipment manufacturers.
2. Global Access Program (GAP)
GAP is used to enhance the export capabilities of eligible Pennsylvania small businesses.
- Uses: GAP helps provide flexibility and encourages the use of the grant to help meet the international marketing needs of an eligible business. Usage includes – participating in international trade shows, international market sales trips, and shipping the products.
- Funding: Grant opportunities of up to 75% for all eligible companies. Business costs and expenses are capped at $10,000 per year for qualified expenses.
3. High-Performance Building Program (HPB)
The grant assists businesses that are involved in the construction and major renovation of high-performance buildings in Pennsylvania.
- Uses: The grant helps assist eligible companies in activities such as the construction and renovation of high-performance buildings.
- Funding: Capped at $500,000 or 10% of total eligible building construction and renovation costs, whichever is less.
4. Industrial Sites Reuse Program (ISRP)
The ISRP grant is awarded for environmental site assessment and remediation work at old industrial sites.
- Uses: The grant can be utilized for Phase – I, II, and III environmental assessments. It can also be used for the remediation of hazardous substances in distressed areas.
- Funding: Grants and loans up to $200,000 for environmental assessments of businesses. $1 million for remediation of eligible businesses.
5. Manufacturing PA Industrial Resource Center (IRC) Program
The program helps Pennsylvania businesses involved in manufacturing become more competitive by helping them adopt the latest manufacturing technologies.
- Uses: The grant funds may also be used for salary and other personnel expenses, operational expenses, and administrative purposes.
- Funding: $5.3 million is offered as grant opportunities for businesses.
6. Empowerment Zone Grants
Empowerment zones are earmarked areas to help promote economic growth for businesses through various programs and initiatives.
There are three empowerment zones in Pennsylvania:
American Street Empowerment Zone
North Central Empowerment Zone
West Philadelphia Empowerment Zone
- Uses: These are government grants chalked out for business expansion and growth, storefront improvement and beautification, financial literacy, tax preparation, and marketing.
- Funding: Each grant amount varies. It depends on the business.
Please refer to individual grants offered to individual empowerment zones such as North Central or West Philadelphia Empowerment Zone grants, to learn more about the available funding.
The Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania (WEDnetPA) provide grants for training existing and new employees.
- Uses: This grant helps existing businesses in Pennsylvania fund employee training and skill enhancement efforts. The grant helps employees with career advancement and quicker promotion.
- Funding: Business employees of grant recipients are eligible for $2,000 of business grants for skill-building training.
8. Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST)
PennVEST provides business grants (and loans) to businesses for new or improvement of existing public/private-owned drinking water, and sewage facilities.
- Uses: The grants can also be used by businesses for the remediation of businesses involved in brownfield projects as well as pollution prevention practices.
- Funding: The maximum grant amount is capped at $11,000,000 for a single project or $20,000,000 if a project serves more than one municipality.
9. Pennsylvania First Program (PA First)
It is a fund created to facilitate increased economic investment and job creation with the businesses present in the commonwealth state.
- Uses: The grants can be utilized for a wide scope of activities such as – job training support, machinery/equipment, land acquisition, land and building improvement, etc.
- Funding: The scope of funding varies depending on the activity.
10. Renewable Energy Program (REP) – Geothermal and Wind Projects
The renewable energy program (REP) grant promotes alternative fuels and energy amongst businesses in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Uses: The grant promotes and assists businesses involved in geothermal technologies and wind energy programs.
- Funding: Financial assistance of up to $5,000 is awarded to businesses for every new job created by manufacturers of renewable energy equipment.
For businesses in wind energy projects – $1 million or 30% of the project cost, whichever is lower.
For planning and feasibility projects – $175,000 or 50% of the total project cost, whichever is lower.
11. Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP)
The PennTAP can support Pennsylvania businesses to improve their competitiveness by providing free tech assistance.
Issues include – advanced information technology, environmental compliance, energy efficiency and conservation, product development, small business technology transfer, and technology commercialization.
The program focuses on small businesses in Pennsylvania which lack in-house technical capabilities.
- Uses: Grant is awarded to businesses to help improve competitiveness.
- Funding: The small business grant varies depending on the project a business has applied for.
12. Very Small Meat and Poultry Processor Reimbursement Grant Program
The very small meat & poultry processor Reimbursement Grant program supports the enhancement and expansion of organizations involved in meat and poultry processing in Pennsylvania.
- Uses: The grant can support a business in opening and expanding the capacity of meat processors.
It can also be used by a business for covering costs associated with inspection by USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)., employee training, and purchasing processing equipment.
The grant also supports businesses in purchasing equipment for employee safety.
- Funding: Grant applications are capped at $100,000.
13. Amber Grant for Women
Founded in 1988 by WomensNet, Amber Grant, awards grants to women business owners. The grant was established in memory of Amber Wigdahl. She died at 19 before fulfilling her dream of becoming a business owner.
- Uses: The grant money can be used for capacity enhancement of small businesses in the following categories – restaurant owners, health and wellness, fashion and beauty, etc.
- Funding: $10,000 is allotted as financial assistance for a new business each month. And, two businesses are granted $25,000 every year for obtaining more business resources.
14. Storefront Improvement Program
The storefront Improvement Program grant helps support small business owners in upgrading their storefronts.
- Uses: The grant can be utilized by a business for funding various costs of
- Exterior painting and renovation
- Glazing windows
- Lighting – exterior facade
- Exterior painting – door
- See-through security grills
- Funding: The grant can be utilized for 50% of the project cost by a business. The amount is capped at $10,000 for commercial property or $15,000 for multiple business properties.
The above-mentioned PA grant for small businesses has been chosen selectively.
Let’s now learn how a Pennsylvania small business can access a full list of all available small business grants.
Where to Find Pennsylvania Small Business Grants?
- Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED)
The DCED (a Pennsylvania department) is responsible for sustainable development across Pennsylvania.
They advise and act as advocates, and help provide working capital, technical expertise, training, and financial assistance to help the business community flourish in Pennsylvania.
Find available Pennsylvania small business grants: https://dced.pa.gov/program/
- Pennsylvania Grantwatch
The website helps small business owners in Pennsylvania find new grants. You can filter grants based on your business category and location.
Find out more about Pennsylvania small business grants: https://pennsylvania.grantwatch.com/
- Grants for Minority-Owned Businesses and Women Businesses
Minority businesses and women entrepreneurs can learn about relevant grant opportunities through here: Grants for Minority Owned Businesses and Women Businesses.
Tips for Successful Grant Proposals
There are a few things that business owners can do to increase their chances of writing a successful grant proposal.
First, make sure that you thoroughly understand the guidelines and requirements of the grant program before you start writing your grant applications.
Second, take the time to write a well-written and organized proposal. Be sure to include all of the required information and follow all formatting instructions.
Third, have someone else review your proposal before you submit it to make sure that it is error-free and surpasses other applicants.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional grant writer if you need it. Other applicants might have hired one too!
Alternatives To Grants
If you are unable to qualify for a federal government grant or have missed the deadline for a specific grant you wanted to apply to, you can consider alternatives to grants.
They are a great way to add business resources and ramp up your operations.
Let’s understand them briefly.
- Small Business Commercial Loans: Financing options such as – commercial bank loans, credit lines, term loans, and SBA loans (government-backed loans) are available. Loans are quick and easy to secure provided you have collateral.
- Small Business Micro-loans: If commercial loans do not pique your interest, consider opting for micro-loans. Microloans are loans ranging from less than $50,000, have short terms, and have comparatively lower interest rates.
- Small Business Credit Cards: Credit cards are another great option that helps you earn rewards while you undertake expenses. Consider exploring a host of credit cards before zeroing down on one that meets your needs.
- Crowdfunding for Small Businesses: Online platforms such as Indiegogo helps support small businesses and secure funding. The funding obtained can be used to shape small business ideas into reality.
How Do Grants Impact Your Business?
Opting for grant programs by a small business has its own pros and cons. Let’s briefly touch on them.
- Easy Access To Capital: Capital helps expand your business capabilities and achieve objectives swiftly. This also helps nonprofit organizations focus on their objective without worrying about funding.
- Waterfall Effect: Securing a grant helps in securing successive grants easily. This happens primarily because securing a grant by applicants is a great indicator of a proven business model.
- Helps Gain Credibility: A grant helps organizations gain visibility and in turn, adds credibility to your business.
- Competitive: There are multiple organizations that eye for multiple grant programs. Thus, making the process competitive for a small business owner.
- Time-Consuming: Applying for, securing, and receiving funding can be a tedious process.
- Uncertain Renewal: There is uncertainty around the renewal of a grant application for a small business. This can be difficult for business owners and entrepreneurs since they would need to change their plan of action accordingly.