6 Grants for Small Businesses in Michigan
Known for its natural beauty and proximity to the Great Lakes, Michigan is a beautiful state, and home to over 800,000 small businesses. But owning or starting your own small business means finding ways to sustain your cash flow and business operations.
Qualifying for traditional business loans can be difficult, which is where small business grants can really make a difference. The only problem is, grants are highly competitive. Fortunately, Michigan has several local and state grant programs for small businesses, which means there are many opportunities for businesses to get “free cash” to cover business expenses or fund a business idea.
The process to find Michigan business grants can be challenging, so we’ve taken the time to find the top options. We’ll also tackle how to navigate the grant search process, and go in-depth on how to successfully apply for small business grants.
The Top 6 Small Business Grants in Michigan
Your best chance to get a Michigan small business grant is by starting your search within your local area because oftentimes communities will give preference to local businesses. Once you’ve exhausted that option, you’ll want to expand your search regionally, then look for state grant programs. During your search, it’s a good idea to frequent grant aggregator sites or any other authoritative official government websites. Connecting with your local small business development office is also another underrated resource.
You should also think about applying to national grant programs. Although more competitive, national grant programs generally offer more grant money than local grant organizations. If you’re a minority, woman, or veteran business owner, it’s also worth looking into nationally recognized small business grants for women, small business grants for minorities, and veteran business grants.
1. Match on Main
Provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Match on Main is a grant program for small businesses located in “Select” or “Master” level Main Street communities in Michigan. This grant program gives local downtown management organizations up to $50,000 to administer to small businesses. Although this program provides funding directly to communities, small businesses should reach out directly to their local Main Street director for more information about the program.
2. Moving Flint Forward Small Business Grant Program
In an effort to revitalize neighborhoods and communities in Flint, Michigan, General Motors and the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce are providing grants to small businesses that are facing difficulties to grow. Known as the Moving Flint Forward Small Business Grant Program, select awardees receive $10,000 to finance expansion projects, repairs and leasehold improvements, or purchasing inventory and equipment.
Prospective applicants must meet the program’s criteria in order to be eligible for the grant. Some of the program’s criteria include: owning and operating a business in Flint, having fewer than 20 employees, supporting at least one nonprofit organization, and being in good financial standing before applying.
3. Hatch Detroit
If you’ve always wanted to run your own brick-and-mortar retail business in Detroit, Highland Park, or Hamtramck, Michigan, the Hatch Detroit contest gives you a chance to do so by offering the grand prize winner $100,000 in cash and a business package from Hatch Detroit and its partners.
Since opening in 2011, the Hatch Detroit contest has helped 42 businesses open their doors and generated over $1 million in services to their alumni and winners. To apply for the Hatch Detroit Contest, you must submit an online application detailing the viability of your business. Contest judges are seeking businesses that fill a retail gap and positively impact the surrounding community.
4. Emerge Fund
Want to start or grow your business in St. Clair County, Michigan? Then you may want to look into the Emerge Fund. Created by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and the Economic Development Alliance, the Emerge Fund awards a maximum grant amount of $5,000 per eligible applicant to entrepreneurs who want to develop a business plan, create a website, file a patent, or other business initiatives.
Winners of the Emerge Fund are also required to join The Underground, a business incubator that provides resources, tools, and mentorship to business owners.
5. Michigan GrantWatch
A great resource for Michigan businesses looking for grants and other funding is Michigan GrantWatch, a website that frequently updates with the latest grants for small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Michigan.
For businesses that are looking for the latest government grants, GrantWatch is one of the largest databases that compile grants from the federal, state, and local governments. If you’re interested in hiring a grant writer, you can also request a grant writer specialist from GrantWatch.
6. Amber Grant for Women
The Amber Grant for Women is another grant program for women entrepreneurs seeking capital to grow their businesses. Women business owners in Michigan are encouraged to apply to this grant program, which is open nationally. The Amber Grant for Women awards $10,000 to an outstanding female entrepreneur every month. At the end of the year, an additional $25,000 grand prize is awarded to one of the monthly winners.
Applying to this grant program is easy, although you will have to pay a $15 application fee. You will need to submit information about yourself, your business, and other crucial information about why you need the grant money for your business. To give yourself a leg up on the application process, we recommend that you look at previous grant winners, who are listed on the grant program’s website.
How to Find the Right Michigan Grant for Your Small Business
Selecting the best grant for your business in Michigan means you have to be strategic. You shouldn’t just be applying to the programs that offer the most money. You’ll need to consider your business’s eligibility, and also the amount of time you can devote to completing your grant applications.
Plan out Time for Your Application
Applying to small business grants is like applying for a business loan. You’ll have to devote time to collecting documents and financial statements, as well as drafting a coherent business plan—all of which takes more than a few hours to complete.
And because grant applications take time, it’s not an efficient way to get funding if you’re looking to cover an urgent business financing need. Even if you are successfully able to complete and submit your application, getting a grant can take weeks, if not months, to process. If you do have more urgent financing needs, we recommend looking into the best Michigan business loans instead.
Understand Your Eligibility
Perhaps the most important part about applying for grant programs is knowing whether your business fits the eligibility criteria to receive grant funding. If your business is clearly not a fit for the grant, you will have wasted your time and money filling out applications.
Grant programs specifically look for small businesses that match their mission or have demonstrably contributed to certain communities. Likewise, take advantage of programs that are available for businesses with special characteristics, such as being minority- or woman-owned.
To help you familiarize yourself with your business’s core features, here are some questions you should answer about your business:
- Whether you identify with any underserved groups (women, minorities, veterans, etc.)
- Your industry
- Whether your business is for-profit or nonprofit
- How you plan on using the grant money
- Your company’s goals and mission
- How many jobs you can create with your grant (if applicable)
- The local areas to which you belong (state, county, community, etc.)
- The size of your project
- Whom your company serves and affects
Remember, answering these questions about your business is just the beginning. When writing your grant applications, you’ll need to provide very detailed information about your business in order to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Write a Stellar Grant Proposal
Although most grant programs have different grant application requirements, in most cases you’ll be expected to write a complete grant proposal. A grant proposal generally details your business, your objectives, why you need the grant money, and how you plan on using the grant money to support your small business.
As a general rule, every grant proposal should be tailored to the specific grant organization to which you’re applying. Your grant proposal should answer every question that the organization may have about the viability and potential of your business.
Grant proposals will generally include some, if not all of the following components:
- Cover letter
- Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Problem statement
If you want to polish your grant proposal (and increase efficiency), you may want to consider hiring an external consultant to review your proposal.
The Bottom Line
You’ve familiarized yourself with the top small business grant programs in Michigan, how to search for the best Michigan small business grants, and learned how to prepare yourself for the grant application process. Now it’s time for you to dive deep into the small business grant process, where you will hopefully secure a small business grant that fulfills your business financing needs.
If you find that you’re having trouble getting a small business grant, note that new small business grant programs open up every year, which means that you’ll always have another chance to get a grant. There are also other business funding resources available if you’re willing to look into other forms of financing. Many Michigan cities offer affordable business loans. And don’t forget about SBA loans and microloans—both are great options if you want business financing with low interest rates and simple terms. And if your business is just getting off the ground, look into the best banks for small businesses in Michigan so you can start forging a professional relationship that you can leverage down the line for future funding needs.
- SBA.org. “2018 Small Business Profiles”