Alternatives to small business loans: local grants

Many small businesses can’t qualify for a small business loan from a traditional local bank. A bad credit record disqualifies many. Lending standards have tightened. Some small towns are limited by local banks that don’t support small business; others don’t have locally-owned banks any more. The good news is that alternatives are available. We are profiling alternatives to traditional small business loans in this ongoing series on financing.

Lunch at Pastimes in downtown Enid, Okla.
Enid, Oklahoma is encouraging businesses to locate
or expand downtown by using small grants. 

Local grants can provide business financing in place of a loan. The trick is that they are scarce and not widely known. So you have to do your homework to find out if any might work for your small business.

The granting agencies can be economic development groups, Main Street programs, Chambers of Commerce, cities and towns, even states. The targeted uses might be business expansion, appearance upgrades, or any other purpose the grantor might want to encourage.

  • The Enid (Oklahoma) Regional Development Alliance offered $5,000 grants to downtown Enid business owners to startup or expand. 
  •  Miami-Dade County (Florida) offers a Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program. (Yes, I know they aren’t a small town, but it is a good program.)  
  • The City of Mangum (Oklahoma) offered $500 matching grants specifically for facade improvements. 

Your task is to get out and look for these local grants. It may take a lot of research to find any in your area. Even if you find a local grant or two, there is no guarantee that they will match up with your financing needs for your business, so don’t count on these to save your business.

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About Becky McCray

Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband own a retail liquor store in Alva, Oklahoma, and a small cattle ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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  1. says

    It’s always nice to see small communties looking for ways to support their Small Businesses.
    Finding financing is one of the toughest ones out there.
    Having been a small business man for over 30 years I felt the need to write a book called “The last Will and Testament of Small business”
    Don’t let the title fool you , it tells of the obstacles and the solutions for helping the small businesses and the economy.
    Good luck and keep up the good work.
    God Bless America
    Dan Phillips