Oregon Small Business Grants: The Top Options

Written on November 17, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

When you think of business-friendly areas, Oregon may not be the first state to come to mind. Known for its lush greenery and diverse landscapes, Oregon isn’t exactly known for its small business community. Still, the state is home to plenty of thriving small businesses.

Since Oregon doesn’t have as much capital as some of its neighboring states, finding small business financing like business loans can be a hassle. And because of the high competition for money, it’s often challenging to get a small business grant.

In this article, you’ll learn more about our top seven Oregon small business grants, other financial resources available to Oregon businesses, and tips on preparing yourself for the grant application process.

The Top 7 Oregon Small Business Grants

We’ll be upfront with you: Oregon’s small business grants can be hard to come by. There aren’t that many private organizations that offer grant programs, and many of the state-funded grants have pretty demanding eligibility requirements. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t prevent you from applying for these grants if your business is qualified. Just keep that in mind as you browse our list, which includes some of the most well-known Oregon small business grants and a few major national small business grants.

1. SBIR Support Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) are highly competitive federal grant programs that are designed to fund small businesses that are working to commercialize new technologies through research and development. Phase I federal grants are awarded to early-stage companies that want to complete proof of concept on new technologies. Phase II federal grants are awarded to businesses that received Phase I grants and help businesses develop commercial prototypes.

To encourage small businesses in Oregon to apply for the SBIR/STTR program, Business Oregon (Oregon’s state economic development agency) awards grants through the SBIR Support Program as a way to incentivize businesses that are interested to apply for the federal grant program. The three types of grants are:

  • Matching Grants: Businesses that receive a Phase I federal grant can earn a matching grant of up to $50,000 or a grant award of $100,000 from Business Oregon if they earn a Phase II federal award.
  • Phase 0 and 00 Grants: Businesses that need extra assistance to prepare their applications to get federal funding can receive an additional grant of up to $5,000. Phase 0 grants are given to businesses seeking a Phase I grant, while Phase 00 grants are awarded to businesses seeking Phase II or Fast-Track grants.

To apply for a Matching Grant, Phase 0, or Phase 00 grant, you will need to contact a Business Oregon representative.

2. Export Promotion Program

Funded in partnership with the SBA, the Export Promotion Program seeks to provide grants to small businesses that need cash reimbursement for participating in activities that support export promotion. Businesses that need financial assistance to partake in international trade shows, design marketing media, or join in export training workshops can apply for grants up to $10,000 to reimburse those expenses.

Eligible candidates can have no more than 500 employees, and at least 75% of the business’s total employees must be employed in Oregon. The business must also have one employee who is wholly committed to the grant-funded activity. Applying to the Export Promotion Program requires you to download and fill out an SBA certification form. Once completed, you will need to create an account with Business Oregon and complete an online application.

3. Small Business Internship Grant

To provide students of color with more learning opportunities and diversity Portland’s pool of workforce talent, Prosper Portland, Portland’s economic and urban development agency, offers Small Business Internship Grants to 12 small businesses in Portland. Grant amounts will cover 10-week internship programs for student interns and will not exceed more than $5,350.

Qualified businesses must have no more than 50 employees and must be part of the Emerging Leaders Internship Program. Emerging, minority and women-owned businesses are given preference. To apply, you must fill out an online application on Prosper Portland’s website.

4. Inspiring Diversity Grant

If your business is in the local-traded sector and is focused on furthering diversity and inclusion efforts, you may be eligible to apply for Prosper Portland’s Inspiring Diversity Grant. The Inspiring Diversity Grant awards up to $10,000 in grants to businesses committed to activities that promote diversity and inclusion. Some of these activities include marketing and outreach to underserved communities, organizational training, or developing diversity supplier programs.

To meet the Inspiring Diversity Grant’s eligibility criteria, businesses must:

  • Be a traded sector business
  • Be located in Portland
  • Agree to use the grant strictly for diversity efforts
  • Participate in group sessions to share best practices

5. Oregon GrantWatch

Oregon GrantWatch is not a small business grant, but a small business grant website. The website frequently updates with new business grant opportunities for small businesses in Oregon. You can also use Oregon GrantWatch to filter through grants by interest and funding sources.

6. Amber Grant

Women business owners in Oregon interested in seeking women-focused business grants should look into the Amber Grant. The Amber Grant is a $10,000 grant that is awarded each month to one woman business owner. At the end of each year, one business owner awarded one of the monthly grants receives an additional $25,000. Interested female entrepreneurs can apply for an Amber Grant by filling out a short application form.

7. FedEx Small Business Grant

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is an annual contest that accepts applications from all over the country. Each year, FedEx selects one grand prize winner, one runner-up, and a few other businesses to receive grant money. In 2020, FedEx selected 12 small businesses to receive a grant. The grand prize winner received a $50,000 grant plus $7,500 in FedEx Office print and business services.

To enter the FedEx Small Business Grant contest, applicants must write a short profile about their business, upload four photos, and submit a nine-second video explaining why they should win a FedEx Small Business Grant. Eligible businesses must be for-profit, have no more than 99 employees, and be in operation for at least six months.

Additional Financial Resources for Small Business Grants in Oregon

As we’ve mentioned earlier, it can be hard to find an Oregon small business grant. But that doesn’t mean that the state doesn’t offer other outstanding financial assistance programs for small businesses.

Business Oregon is a strong provider of state small business loans, including the Oregon Business Development Fund, which offers fixed-rate loans up to $1 million to businesses in manufacturing, processing, or distribution. There’s also the Small Business Expansion Fund, which provides up to $250,000 in loans to businesses expecting rapid sales growth.

If you’re looking for something more convenient, online business loans are also something to consider. Online business loans generally have shorter applications and faster processing times, meaning that you could get a business loan in one to two business days.

How to Find the Right Oregon Small Business Grant For You

You should never underestimate the grant process. It takes weeks, if not months, of careful planning and a decent strategy to land an Oregon small business grant. To help you with finding the best small business grant, we’ll go over three essential steps to get ahead of the grant process.

1. Understand the Commitment

Getting a small business grant is not an overnight process. You will have to carefully think about how you’ll allocate enough time and resources to finish a grant proposal. Grant applications generally take a few weeks to complete, which means if you’re in a rush to get financial assistance for your business, a grant may not be the right resource for you. We recommend setting a schedule and hiring extra help, such as a grant consultant, with your grant applications.

2. Write a Strong Grant Application

Your grant application plays the biggest role in your chances of getting a small business grant. A grant application is basically a document that contains information about why your business should receive grant funding. Grant applications can be anywhere from one to a hundred pages, depending on the grant program’s requirements. Generally, a grant application contains general information about your business, your business plan, financial documents analyzing how you will use the funding, and methods to measure your business’s success after receiving your grant.

3. Watch Out for Grant Scams

Grant scams are everywhere, and you’ll need to stay on your toes when you’re applying for grants. If you find a grant program with a dubious reputation that asks for sensitive information, be aware that it may be a scam. To avoid getting scammed, make sure you do your due diligence when you’re researching grant programs. Generally, you can trust authoritative websites that end in .gov.

The Bottom Line

Oregon has plenty of small business grant resources and other financial resources to help local small businesses. When you’re searching for the right Oregon small business grant, it’s crucial to have the same approach as when you’re applying for a small business loan: give yourself enough time to fill out grant applications and select the grant that fits your business. You’ll find that, even if you cannot secure a small business grant, there are many other business financing options available. State-funded loan programs and online business loans are also great funding alternatives that don’t require as much legwork to apply.