Florida Small Business Grants: The Top Options

Updated on September 25, 2020
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Finding business funding opportunities that you won’t need to repay for your small startup can be appealing. Creating your own small business in Florida can be done rather quickly, but the administrative costs, office space expenses, and additional business fees can add up fast. Taking advantage of small business grants, therefore, can help you grow your business even more quickly, without taking on large amounts of debt.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best small business grants in Florida and explain the requirements, benefits, and disadvantages for each option.

Top Small Business Grants for Florida Entrepreneurs, Summarized

  1. Florida High Tech Corridor Grant: Best for high-tech companies in Florida looking for research funding
  2. Enterprise Florida Grants: Best for small businesses in Florida looking for venture capital partnerships
  3. Prospera Small Business Grants: Best for Hispanic entrepreneurs in Florida
  4. USDA Rural Business Development Grants: Best for Florida small businesses in less-populated, rural areas
  5. Amber Grant: Best for women-led small businesses in Florida
  6. National Association for the Self-Employed Grant: Best for small businesses in Florida also looking for business development assistance and resources
  7. Federal Minority Business Grants: Best for minority-owned small businesses
  8. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: Best for small businesses in Florida whose services or products will help benefit their local area or the country at large
  9. Small Business Research Grants: Best for technological or biotech startups in Florida that need research-based funding

The Best Small Business Grants in Florida

When searching for small business grants in Florida, you’ll want to focus on two key areas. First, you’ll want to look for Florida-specific grants set aside for small businesses. These grants could be statewide, regional, or city-specific.

Next, you’ll want to research national or more widespread business grants that might not be specific to your state but are open to Florida small businesses.

In our list below, we’ve included some of the top state and national options. We also recommend looking into local small business grants in your area as well. Lastly, in case you’re not awarded a grant, you’ll want to remember you can always consider more traditional business financing options.

1. Florida High Tech Corridor Grant

If your Florida startup is a high-tech company, you might be eligible for a Florida High Tech Corridor Grant. These grants are designed for research and development projects and come with university partnerships. Opportunities are available in 23 Florida counties.

There are two grants high-tech Florida businesses can apply for. Award amounts vary but are typically between $10,000 to $150,000. Applications are welcomed year-round. 

2. Enterprise Florida Grants

Enterprise Florida is the primary economic development organization for the state of Florida. They have a public-private partnership between the state government and businesses and work to diversify and enhance the state’s economy.

This organization offers many small business services and grants that Florida startups should be aware of.

Currently, Enterprise Florida offers the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to match Florida startups with private capital opportunities, venture capital programs, and Minority Business Development financing opportunities.

New grants also pop up throughout the year, so business owners should browse new opportunities regularly.

3. Prospera Small Business Grants

Prospera has been helping Hispanic entrepreneurs start new businesses in Florida since 1991. This economic development organization is a nonprofit company that works with new and growing Hispanic businesses to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Prospera business grants are awarded on an individual basis, based on need, industry, and opportunity potential. Overall, Prospera grants typically cover business development services to help Hispanic startups establish their new businesses.

4. USDA Rural Business Development Grant

If you’re planning to open a business in a rural area of Florida, you may be eligible for a USDA Rural Business Development Grant. These grants are available to Florida small businesses with less than 50 employees and under $1 million in annual gross revenue.

These grants must be used to enhance business operations and promote projects that will benefit the rural community. There is no set amount for these grants; however, grant amounts cannot exceed the annual funding amount available for the USDA Rural Business Development program.

5. Amber Grant

Women entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Sunshine State should be aware of the Amber Grant. This small business grant awards $10,000 to one female entrepreneur across North America each month. Then, at the end of the year, the 12 winners all have a chance to win the additional year-end Amber Grant worth $25,000. In total, you could win up to $35,000 to help your small business flourish.

To apply, you’ll fill out the Amber Grant application and answer some basic questions about your small business. The application will ask how you plan to use the money if you win the Amber Grant award, as well as what your business (or idea) is, what it does, and what’s the story behind it. There is a $15 application fee to submit your application.

Use our small business grants for women guide to find more grants, like the Amber Grant, designed for female entrepreneurs.

6. National Association for the Self-Employed Grant

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) offers up to $4,000 in small business grants for Florida and other U.S.-based small businesses and startups. NASE has awarded almost $1 million in small business grants to help new startups grow and develop since the program began in 2006.

To be eligible for a NASE grant, you must be an active member of the organization for at least 90 days. In addition, you must demonstrate financial need, provide details on how your business will use the grant money, provide a copy of your company’s business plan and your professional resume, and describe how receiving this grant will help your business thrive. 

7. Federal Minority Business Grants

Entrepreneurs in Florida who are considered minorities based on ethnicity, gender, or disability status can receive financial support in the form of a Federal Minority Business Grant. These grants not only come in the form of direct funding for minority-owned small businesses—but they can also provide business development services, such as training, technical assistance, and management courses.

Grant amounts will vary depending on the small business need, industry, and size. In total, the U.S. government sets aside $1 million per year to fund business grants for minorities across the country. The best way to find funding for minority businesses is through Grants.gov, where you can search for available grants in your area and industry.

Use our guide to learn more about the best grants for minority-owned businesses.

8. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards grants to small businesses across the country each year. Small businesses in Florida are welcome to apply.

Typically, FedEx reserves this grant money for small businesses with innovative ideas that can help communities thrive and those demonstrating the greatest financial need.

There is no set amount for the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, and several grants are often awarded in varying amounts. For instance, in 2020, 12 businesses received over $250,000 collectively in grant assistance through this program.

9. Small Business Research Grants

Also referred to as America’s Seed Fund, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) are two of the largest research grant programs designed to help U.S. small businesses in the technology sector.

These two grant programs focus on funding research projects in partnership with the U.S. government.

If you’re a Florida entrepreneur in the technology industry, you’ll certainly want to consider applying for the SBTT or SBIR program to help finance further research and development. Award amounts vary by grant and business needs.

Additional Resources for Small Business Grants in Florida

When looking for small business grants for your Florida business, it’s also important to consider local and county resources. Many Florida counties and cities offer additional funding options for small businesses, particularly for those looking to enhance the community.

Additional grant options may also be available to minorities, women, or veterans.

To find these opportunities, you can refer to local government websites, business centers, or community business organizations.

How to Find the Right Florida Small Business Grant for You

The process of applying for small business grants for your Florida company may seem overwhelming, particularly as you’re trying to get your business off the ground.

To help, we’ll walk you through three top tips to keep in mind as you hunt for the best grant opportunities.

1. Schedule time for grant applications.

When creating a new business, sticking to a schedule is crucial. It’s easy to feel stretched for time and overextended otherwise. We recommend scheduling time once a day or week to search for and apply to eligible grant opportunities.

Keep a list or spreadsheet of all available opportunities and use each session to search for new small business grants in Florida or to apply for existing ones you’ve already researched.

Be sure to research eligibility requirements extensively during this process to make sure your company fits all of the grant’s criteria.

2. Weigh grant application fees.

Another important factor in applying for small business grants in Florida is considering application fees.

When you research eligible grants, we recommend creating a column for the program’s application fee. Be sure to consider the cost of applying vs. the benefits you’ll receive before spending hours filling out applications and answering lengthy questions.

Listing application fees on your grant list can also help you quickly scan for affordable or no-cost grants that you can focus on first, particularly if your new company is not yet in the black.

3. Keep alternatives in mind.

Applying for small business grants in Florida does not guarantee you’ll receive assistance or the amount of assistance you’re hoping for. Fortunately, if you do not receive grant money to kick off your Florida startup, there are other options to explore.

For instance, you can consider taking out a small business loan through a top Florida small business bank to help finance your business endeavor. 

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, there are many small business grants in Florida available to new or existing startups. Due diligence and research can help you find opportunities that are the right fit for your small business.

While receiving a small business grant in Florida can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Still, we recommend having a backup plan available to help your company secure startup funding through a more traditional method.

Courtney Johnston
Contributing Writer at Fundera

Courtney Johnston

Courtney Johnston is a freelance writer, specializing in finance, real estate, and small business. Her writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Benzinga, Rocket Mortgage, BestReviews, Mashvisor, and MoneyGeek. She also teaches writing instruction at the University of Indianapolis. Courtney enjoys condensing complex topics into easily digestible content for readers.

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