Over the past decade, Texas has established itself as one of the country’s best business climates. As one of the 9th largest economies globally, Texas is a prime location for small businesses. But even with all the right conditions, getting a small business grant is still undoubtedly appealing. Unlike small business loans, grants are free forms of funding, and you generally never have to worry about paying it back to a lender. However, getting a Texas small business grant isn’t the most effortless process. You’ll have to do a lot of research into what business grants you’re eligible for and devote time to your application.
Read on to learn more about the best Texas small business grants, alternative business financing sources, and preparing for the grant application process.
The majority of Texas small business grants come from state programs, although competition for them is fierce. State grants tend to be very specific with their requirements, so keep that in mind as you browse through this list. If you find it challenging to look for local Texas small business grants, we’ve also included a few national grants to broaden your grant search scope.
Businesses looking to start a project in Texas versus other out-of-state options may be eligible to receive a “deal-closing” grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). TEF has several eligibility requirements. Eligible projects must generate at least 75 full-time jobs in urban areas (or at least 25 full-time jobs in rural areas). Wages must meet or exceed the average county wage where the project will be located. The project must also be supported by the local county government where the project takes place.
Awards are calculated based on whether the project is likely to see a return on investment. Awards will also be dependent on the number of jobs created, average wages, and hiring timeframe.
To apply to TEF, applicants must undergo a lengthy due diligence process. You will be required to fill out a 20-page application and pay a $1,000 application fee. If your application is approved, you will receive an offer letter detailing your grant contract.
To encourage Texan businesses to export to foreign markets and increase the value of exported goods and services, The State of Texas Trade Expansion Program (STEP) awards grants up to $10,000 to eligible small businesses that participate in select export activities. Companies that want to participate in foreign trade shows, get compliance testing to test the viability of a product in a foreign market, or need to translate their website or invest in search engine optimization are considered approved export activities.
STEP requires that the business matches 25% of the grant in conjunction with the grant up to $2,500. Eligible businesses must be organized and operating in the U.S., meet industry-based business size standards (you can check your size standard through the Code of Federal Regulations), be in business for at least one year, and understand the costs associated with exporting and conducting business transactions with foreign purchasers.
The application process for STEP is currently closed. However, to learn more about applying to the program, you can contact a grant specialist representing the program.
The Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Skills for Small Business Program provides grant funding to small businesses that wish to invest in training their full-time employees. Small businesses that receive funding from the TWC can pay their employees to enroll in training offered by their local community colleges, technical colleges, or at the Texas Engineering Extension Service.
Businesses can receive up to $1,800 per year for each new employee and $900 for every existing employee. Your business should have no more than 100 employees to be eligible for the TWC grant. To apply for a grant from the TWC program, you must fill out a two-page TWC application and email it to the TWC team.
Businesses located in Alamo can apply to the Alamo Small Business Grant Program, which provides up to $2,500 in grant reimbursements for small businesses seeking financial assistance to invest in renovation projects. Grant recipients can only use the funds for signage, repairs or renovations, and equipment purchases.
To qualify for the Alamo Small Business Grant businesses must be located in Alamo and have been in operation for 24 consecutive months. Additionally, the business owner must have a yearly lease. If you meet the qualifications, you must fill out the Alamo Small Business Grant Application Packet and write a description of your business and your project. You will also need to provide tax returns for the past two years and documented lease agreements from your landlord agreeing to your project.
Texas GrantWatch is an aggregate site that compiles all of the latest federal, state, and local Texas small business grants. The site updates daily with new grants, making it an excellent resource for small businesses actively pursuing grant opportunities. If you need assistance writing grant proposals, Texas GrantWatch also offers grant consulting services.
The Amber Grant for Women is the leading grant program for women entrepreneurs. Open to women business owners across America, the Amber Grant awards $10,000 each month to one outstanding woman business owner. If you’re selected as one of the 12 monthly winners, you will have the opportunity to receive an additional $25,000 grant at the end of the year.
All you need to do to apply for an Amber Grant is fill out a short online application form. In your application, you will have to provide information about your business and explain how you would use your business’s grant money. There are no strict requirements for an Amber Grant, except businesses must be at least 50% owned by women, and applicants should be at least over 18 years old.
If you’re having a tough time finding a grant for your business in Texas, you can get in touch with your nearest SBDC center in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, or Lubbock. There, you’ll be able to consult with an expert business consultant who can point you in the right direction as you’re looking for local grant opportunities.
Once you’ve committed to pursuing a small business grant for your business in Texas, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with what it takes to get through the grant application process. Applying for a business grant isn’t always going to be a breeze, so keep these tips in mind as you begin your grant search.
As we’ve touched on at the beginning of this article, grants are highly competitive—especially state-funded grants. While this shouldn’t discourage you from applying for these types of grants, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money by ensuring that your business meets all of the eligibility criteria outlined in the state grant program. Fully understanding your business’s eligibility may also lead you to find unique aspects of your business that you can potentially leverage. For example, if your business is veteran-owned or minority-owned, you can look into grant options that specifically cater to you.
If you don’t have all the time in the world to go through the grant process and you’re open to other financing options, you may want to consider alternative ways to finance your business. You can browse through Texas small business loans or look into traditional business funding forms such as SBA loans and online business loans. Online business loans are incredibly convenient, given that they usually only take a few days to process. Additionally, online business loans tend to have much easier requirements. You fill out an online application with basic business information and, within 24 hours, you’ll receive funding. These loans have zero percent interest rates and simple terms.
If you’re not keen on commercial loans, you can also try microloans, which are small loans no more than $50,000 and have very short terms and low-interest rates. There’s also crowdfunding, which allows you to raise large amounts of capital potentially from thousands of individuals.
Finding the best Texas small business grant takes a lot of work, but as long as you’re aware of the resources and time it takes to apply for a small business grant, you shouldn’t have a problem navigating the grant process. Nevertheless, even if you can’t get a coveted business grant, there are always business loans and other ways to finance your business expenses. In fact, you’ll find that many of these loan programs are surprisingly more affordable than you think, so always keep an open mind as you continue your grant search.