Maryland Small Business Grants: The Top Options

Written on September 20, 2021
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If you own a business in Maryland, then you know how confusing it can be to choose the right small business financing. With so many options, it’s sometimes difficult to navigate what business loan financing is right for you. One way of financing your business needs is to get a small business grant. A Maryland small business grant can help boost your business, and you don’t have to worry about paying back the money with interest.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the top Maryland small business grants, where to find them, and how to put your best foot forward during the grant application process.

The Top 8 Options for Maryland Small Business Grants

Maryland has a wealth of small business grants, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that Maryland’s Department of Commerce offers many diverse grant programs for its small businesses. Many local counties in Maryland such as Baltimore and Montgomery also offer comprehensive business financial grants, so we advise you to check your local county’s website and scour for any available grant funding.

If you’re having trouble finding local grants, you may want to consult with your local SBA chapter. Many grant organizations don’t market their grant programs online, which is why contacting your local SBA chapter or other local business association can be helpful. Many business organizations such as SCORE and Maryland SBDC compile grant lists for small businesses.

1. ExportMD Program

Each month, the ExportMD Program awards up to $5,000 in reimbursements to small and medium-sized businesses that offset the costs of an international marketing project. Eligible businesses must be headquartered in Maryland and be in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Eligible businesses must also be at least one year old.

To apply to the ExportMD Program, you must call the Maryland Office of International Investment and Trade (OIIT) and explain your international marketing plan. You will then be put in contact with a representative who will explain the application process.

2. Maryland Momentum Fund

The Maryland Momentum Fund invests in the University System of Maryland (USM) affiliated businesses to support entrepreneurs and boost economic development. The Maryland Momentum Fund invests $150,000 to $500,000 to early-stage companies. Eligible businesses must be in good standing with the state of Maryland and located within a USM research area. Additionally, the founder must be an employee, alum, or current student of a USM institution.

Eligible applicants must also secure equal or greater investment by another investor with the same terms as the Momentum Fund.

Applying to the Maryland Momentum Fund requires you to submit an online application asking you to detail your relationship with USM, past investment history, and information about your startup. You’ll also be required to submit a business plan or pitch deck in your application along with financial projections.

3. Maryland Offshore Wind Capex Program

The Maryland Offshore Wind Capex Program provides grants to help cover costs for Maryland’s emerging businesses, especially minority-owned businesses entering the global offshore wind industry. Grants will cover 50% of total project costs, with a maximum award amount of $400,000. Grants can be used to cover renovations on a rental property, buildings, and equipment. Eligible businesses must be emerging businesses and be majority-owned by an individual with a net worth below $6,500,000.

Applicants must submit a personal net worth certification and complete an online application on Maryland’s Energy Administration website.

4. Partnership for Workforce Quality

The Partnership for Workforce Quality program aims to help small and mid-sized manufacturing and technology businesses train their workers to operate new technologies and increase productivity. PWQ will provide matching grants up to 50% of qualified projects. The minimum grant award for the training project is $10,000, but businesses have the potential to receive a maximum of $200,000 per year from the program.

Qualification for PWG is straightforward: You must be a business in the manufacturing or technology industry and have no more than 150 employees. Like other Department of Commerce grants, you will need to contact your regional representative from the DEC to apply to the program.

5. Maryland Value Added Producer Grant Capital Assets Option

The Maryland Value Added Producer Grant, or MARBIDCO, offers grants up to $10,000 per small rural businesses and farmers who want to expand their operations. Grant recipients can use the funds to build processing facilities, purchase production equipment, and cover expenses that will help diversity business operations.

Applicants must be making a product that is considered value-added in order to apply for the grant. Applicants must also download the application form, submit a detailed business plan, and upload tax returns for the most recent past year.

6. Montgomery County MOVE Program

Planning on starting a business and don’t know where to move? You may want to consider Montgomery County. With Montgomery County’s MOVE Program, eligible new businesses can receive a one-time grant if they move to the county. Businesses that lease up to a 20,000 square feet office space can potentially receive up to $80,000 in grants.

To participate in the program, business owners must have signed a three-year (or longer) commercial lease and complete an application from the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation.

7. Baltimore County Matching Grant Program

Businesses in Baltimore County have the option to receive a Matching Grant under the SAFE Act Financial Assistance program. The purpose of the SAFE Act is to encourage businesses in Baltimore County to comply with required security equipment and improvements. Businesses will cover up to half of the cost for businesses to purchase security equipment and make building renovations to their business. The maximum grant amount you can receive from the County is $10,000.

If you’re interested in applying to the Matching Grant program, you will need to contact a Baltimore County business development representative.

8. Maryland GrantWatch

Maryland GrantWatch is a site that aggregates all major grant opportunities for individual, nonprofit, and small businesses in Maryland. The site allows you to filter grants according to added date, location, and category. Maryland GrantWatch updates its grant database daily, so it’s a fantastic resource to find grants for small businesses in Maryland. You can also use the website to look for grants available to small businesses by the federal government, in case you want to apply to any available federal grants.

How to Find the Right Maryland Small Business Grant for You

With so many grant programs available for your small business in Maryland, now comes the fun part—drafting grant proposals and submitting your application. Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you go through the grant process.

Start Your Application Early

The grant application process takes a good amount of time. It can take more than a few weeks to finish your grant proposal, and that’s not including the time spent researching grants. Most major grant applications will require you to submit important documents such as financial projections, business plans, tax returns, and potentially other important information. Give yourself at least two months in advance of the grant application deadline to avoid rushing your grant application at the very last moment.

Know Your Eligibility

The best way to give yourself an edge above the competition is to apply to grants for which you are well-aligned. This means that you have to have a complete understanding of the eligibility requirements set by the grant program. Knowing your business’s eligibility will also help you figure out ways you can set yourself apart from the hundreds and thousands of other applicants. For example, if you’re a woman business owner or a minority business owner, it would probably be in your best interest to apply to small business grants for women or small business grants for minorities.

The Bottom Line

Small business grants are hard to come by, but you should consider yourself lucky if you live in the state of Maryland. There are several grant resources for your small businesses, and you’ll also find that many counties offer affordable loan programs for local small businesses that are having trouble getting access to working capital. However, keep in mind that getting a grant is still a challenging process.

If you still have a hard time getting a grant, you should always be open to other business financing options. Microloans, which are loans no larger than $10,000, sometimes come with very low interest or no interest at all. Another popular option for working capital is SBA loans, which are business loans guaranteed by the SBA. The SBA offers loans with very low interest rates and reasonable terms.