Grants for starting a business in Georgia may be available for certain types of enterprises. These opportunities are available through the state and federal government to support business development.

What Is a Grant?

A grant is a financial award provided by an authority or agency for developing a new product, business, or project. Unlike a secured loan, which is backed by the government, a grant does not need to be repaid. Grants are also interest-free, while loans carry interest that must also be paid back. For this reason, grant programs are quite valuable for small business owners.

Although grants are a low-cost way to build your business, programs are competitive, and the application and administration processes can be lengthy. To qualify, your company must match the funding requirements of the awarding body and be able to prove that you can build a successful small business with the funds. Local governments, charities, and private organizations all offer grant programs.

What Grants Are Available for Georgia Businesses?

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsors the Rural Business Opportunity Grant, which provides up to $500,000 for training and technical assistance to nonprofit corporations, cooperatives, and rural American Indian tribes engaged in business development programs.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Program for Investment in Entrepreneurs Act provide microbusiness grants for programs and organizations that provide services to other fledgling small business owners. Awards range from $50,000 to $250,000, and preference is given to female business owners, American Indian tribes, and organizations that assist these tribes.
  • Private company Georgia-Pacific offers grants for projects and small businesses that positively affect the lives of community members in the neighborhoods where it operates. Preference is given to minority business owners.
  • The Amber Foundation provides grants of $500 to $1,500 to assist new female entrepreneurs. This program was founded in 1998 in honor of a 19-year-old woman who died before she could fulfill her dream of becoming a business owner.

How Do I Apply for a Georgia Business Grant?

You'll need to write a business plan to use in grant applications. You can get free assistance from the state's Department of Economic Development both online and through Small Business Development Centers. They provide information and resources about writing a business plan and other aspects of creating a Georgia small business.

How Do I Start a Business in Georgia?

You'll first need to obtain a business license from the state. Your business name must also be filed with the office of the Secretary of State. Registering the name does not provide exclusive rights, however. Before choosing a business name, conduct a search through the Secretary of State to make sure the name you want isn't already in use.

Your new business will need to obtain a tax ID number from the Georgia Department of Labor. The State Board of Workers' Compensation requires businesses that have employees to purchase workers' comp insurance.

What Other Funding Programs Are Available in Georgia?

Although few state grants are available for new entrepreneurs, you can also take advantage of lending opportunities, including federal loans and grants along with alternative funding methods. Some resources to explore include:

  • The federal State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which provides private financing for small manufacturers and businesses through the Department of Treasury.
  • Micro-loans through Community Development Financial Institutions.
  • Loan programs administered by the city of Atlanta.
  • State loans for eco-friendly or "green" businesses.
  • Rural business development loans.
  • Georgia non-profit organizations and foundations.
  • The Early Stage Innovation Fund, which strives to increase access to capital for growing business by providing up to $1 billion in matching capital with Small Business Investment Companies.
  • Regional commissions, including small business loan assistance, rural loan funds, gap financing, and USDA industry and business loans.
  • Appalachia Regional Commission, which works to improve quality of life for the Appalachian region through economic development.
  • Agricultural export loan guarantee programs through the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
  • Small Business Innovation Research grants for domestic small businesses developing marketable ideas.
  • Small Business Technology Transfer for research and development funding.
  • Tax break of up to $100,000 for companies that hire certified minority subcontractors.

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