The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on small businesses was devastating. Most companies had to close their doors for an extended period of time, and some, unfortunately, were forced to shutter forever. Now that the number of new cases is slowing dramatically across the U.S., businesses are reopening at a rapid pace. However, many are still struggling to survive. If you’re in need of some operating cash to help your business weather the storm, there are a few remaining options for free money. While far from a comprehensive list, the Small Business Administration, state and local governments and outside businesses are your best bet for receiving funds with no attachments.
The Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration was created in 1953 as an arm of the federal government designed to aid small businesses. In the fiscal year 2020 alone, the SBA provided more than $750 billion in loans to small businesses, with its feature product being the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP was one of the best ways for a qualifying business to get “free money,” as most of those loans are or will be forgiven. Yet, in addition to loans, the SBA also provides grants to certain businesses that do not need to be paid back. The most recent of these is the ongoing Supplemental Targeted Advance program, initiated by the SBA on April 22, 2021. Under this program, businesses located in a low-income community with 10 or fewer employees and a demonstrated loss of at least 50% of income on a year-over-year basis may qualify for a $5,000 grant.
State and Local Governments
In addition to federal funding, many local governments have been offering grants to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, for example, the County of Los Angeles, in partnership with LISC LA, offered 470 grants of $10,000 to personal care and retail businesses. This was on the back of the $100 million deployed to about 7,500 entities by LISC in 2020. The State of New York offered $800 million in direct grants, which do not need to be repaid, to businesses with 100 or fewer employees that suffered economic harm during the COVID-19 crisis. Check with your state or local government to see what grant programs may be available to businesses in your area.
Other Businesses and Service Providers
Some companies provide grants directly to regional businesses. In February 2021, for example, Verizon announced a program to provide $10 million in grants to small businesses through national nonprofit LISC. In May 2021, global payments and services company Klarma announced it was donating $4.5 million in payment and media services to 100 small businesses nationwide that were affected by the pandemic. With a little legwork, you’re likely to uncover some grants available in your area, or for your type of business. For example, there’s currently a grant program in place for comic booksellers and bookstores located in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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Last updated: June 16, 2021