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A manufacturing grant is a monetary award that selected businesses don’t have to pay back. Grants are essentially free money for anyone building their business. SInce you don’t have to repay the funds, manufacturing grants are an especially sought-after way to fund your business needs.
- Manufacturing grants are financial awards available through public and private organizations.
- If you win a manufacturing grant award, you won’t be required to pay it back.
- The influx of funds from a manufacturing grant could transform the trajectory of your business.
Manufacturing Grants from the Federal Government
The federal government offers many grant opportunities to small business owners, including manufacturing grant opportunities. Below is a closer look at some popular grants offered by the federal government:
- Grants.gov: Grants.gov is a website that pulls together all available federal grants. You can use the search function to find opportunities you might qualify for.
- Small Business Administration grants: The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers grants for small manufacturers through programs including Boots to Business, the Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), and the Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Dream Big Awards: The Dream Big Awards are designed to propel small businesses forward. Prize amounts vary, but in 2022, the top award was $25,000.
- USDA Rural Development Grants: The U.S. The Department of Agriculture offers grants through the rural Business Development Program, with the goal of strengthening rural communities. To apply, the business must be in an eligible area, have less than 50 employees, and have less than $1 million gross revenue.
State and Local Grants for Manufacturing
Some state and local governments also provide manufacturing grants. Check out some of the opportunities below:
- State Trade Expansion Program (STEP): STEP grants are designed to help fund small businesses looking to expand into international markets.
- Employability Business Grant: California businesses creating job opportunities for individuals with disabilities can apply for grants between $20,000 and $200,000.
- Florida High Tech Corridor Research Grants: Florida companies working with researchers from either the University of Central Florida or the University of South Florida to develop and commercialize new technologies can apply for grants of up to $150,000.
- CitizensNYC Neighborhood Business Grants: Small businesses in NYC can apply for grant amounts of up to $10,000. The priority is on businesses trying to address specific issues in their communities.
- Amegy Bank Small Business Boost Program: Small business owners with less than 500 employees in Houston can apply for grants of up to $5,000.
Of course, the grant opportunities listed above don’t include every grant under the sun. Do some research about grant options in your local area to find more opportunities.
Industry-specific Grants for Manufacturing
Manufacturing businesses seeking grants aren’t limited to general small business grants or grants for startups. Some industry specific manufacturing grants include:
- Advanced Manufacturing Technology (MFGTech) Roadmap Program: The MFGTech program offers funding opportunities to manufacturers pushing technology forward.
- Department of Defence Manufacturing Technology Program: Companies manufacturing equipment in support of national security needs can apply for funding opportunities through the DoD.
Non-Profit Manufacturing Grants
Many non-profits offer small business grants, which manufacturing companies can apply for.
- National Association for the Self-Employed: Self-employed business owners can apply for grants of up to $4,000.
- Hello Alice Grant: Apply for grants of up to $25,000.
Other Grants for Manufacturing
While not every grant fits neatly into the categories above, there are many more opportunities out there. For example, many corporations offer small business grants. Below are some other options to consider:
- FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: In 2023, the company offers grant amounts of $30,000.
- Fast Break for Small Business: The NBA sponsors this program, which offers grants of up to $10,000.
- Lenovo Evolve Small Grant: The Lenovo Evolve Small grant offers awards of up to $10,000. Before applying, you’ll need to have business revenue between $100,000 to $300,000 to qualify.
Understanding Manufacturing Grants
Based on the opportunities above, it’s clear that there are plenty of manufacturing grant options out there. If you are serious about obtaining funding through a manufacturing grant, it’s helpful to understand the ins and outs before you apply.
How Do Manufacturing Grants Work?
Manufacturing grants work in a similar way to other types of grants. Here’s a breakdown of the process:
- Businesses apply to grant opportunities: Any business can submit an application. But it must meet the minimum requirements to be seriously considered for funding.
- Organizations review applications: The organization providing the grant might review each application individually or hold a public vote for funding decisions.
- Funds are disbursed: Once you receive the funds, you can use them however you see fit for your business needs. And the best part is that you won’t have to repay the funds.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you will find an excuse.”—Jim Rohn, entrepreneur
What Types of Manufacturing Grants Are Available?
Not every manufacturing grant is the same. Most fall into one of the following categories:
- R&D: Research and development grants are designed to help companies make the necessary investments to push new technology into commercial applications.
- Capital: Every business has funding requirements, a grant can fill any gaps in your capital needs.
- Energy efficiency: Some grant organizations are focused on helping manufacturers revamp their operations with a focus on energy efficiency.
- Rural businesses: Some grant organizations work with manufacturers in rural areas to build out employment opportunities.
- Market expansion: Adding distribution channels can be lucrative but expensive to get started. Some grants are designed to help manufacturers cover the upfront costs of expansion.
What Businesses Qualify for Manufacturing Grants?
Not every business can apply for manufacturing grants, here’s what to keep in mind:
- Read the eligibility requirements: Every business grant opportunity has specific eligibility requirements. Read these carefully before committing any time to an application.
- Manufacturing-only grants: Some grants are open to all small businesses. But for manufacturing focused grants, your business must be a producer of a good or product.
Why Are Manufacturing Grants Offered to Businesses?
Free money can be a great thing for your business. But it’s natural to wonder why this opportunity is offered.
- Economic growth: Small manufacturers play a significant role in the economy. Organizations are willing to provide grants as an investment in the economy.
- Growth takes time: For most manufacturers, growth will take time and capital. A grant can help accelerate the timeline.
No country is ever successful in the long term... without a really strong and vibrant manufacturing base.” — Alan Mulally
How Do You Find Manufacturing Grants to Fund Your Business?
Every business has different needs. Start by considering what amount of funds would make a big difference for your business.
- Search online: You can find grant opportunities by searching the web and using tools like Grants.gov.
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce: Your local Chamber of Commerce might be able to point you in the direction of grant opportunities.
How to Apply for Manufacturing Grants
If you want to apply for a grant, here’s a step by step process to follow:
- Researching and identifying relevant grant opportunities: Countless grant opportunities exist. You’ll need to track down the opportunities that might be a fit for your unique situation.
- Understanding the application process and requirements: It’s a waste of time to apply to grants you aren’t eligible for. When you find possible opportunities, read the rules carefully.
- Developing a compelling grant proposal: Spend the time to create a grant proposal that stands out. With many other businesses applying for the same opportunity, you’ll need to share how you stand out from the crowd.
- Submitting the application and following up: Make sure to submit your application on time. Check back in on a regular basis to see if your application moves to the next step.
Benefits of Manufacturing Grants
- Creation of new jobs and economic growth: With the newfound funds, you can create new jobs and foster economic growth in your own community.
- Improvement of competitiveness in the global market: You can use the funds to upgrade equipment and make space for innovations that can help you stand out on the global scale.
- Encouragement of innovation and technology adoption: Innovation pushes new technology into the commercial space. A grant could give you the financial breathing room you need to make space for new tech in your business.
“We always need to sharpen our skills and look for new opportunities.” — Bill Schmid, VP & GM at TW Metals.
Challenges and Limitations of Manufacturing Grants
- Limited availability and competition for grants: With a limited number of grants, not every business owner can win a grant.
- Complex application process and strict requirements: Most grants require a specific application with multiple steps in the process. Make sure you meet the requirements before you apply.
- Reporting and compliance obligations: In some cases, the grant organization will require regular reporting on how you use the funds.
- Uncertain funding availability and changes in grant programs: Funding organizations may change their mind about an opportunity at any moment, which could result in lost opportunities for businesses.
Tips to Increase the Odds of Getting Manufacturing Grants
- Read the rules: Before starting your application, read the rules about the grant. Confirm you meet the eligibility requirements and stick to the necessary application documents.
- Tailor your application: It’s tempting to send a form letter to all grant opportunities. But it’s a good idea to adjust your application to suit the specific grant opportunity.
- Be patient: The grant award process can take months. If you apply, don’t give up hope until the grant winners are announced.
- Seek out specialized opportunities: Some grant programs are focused on working with a specific type of entrepreneur, like a person of color or a woman. Find the opportunities that make sense for you.
Alternatives to Manufacturing Grants
A manufacturing grant isn’t the only way to fund your business. Here are some other opportunities:
- Manufacturing business loans: Business owners can find online lenders willing to provide a loan.
- Equipment loans: If you need a specific piece of equipment, a specialized equipment loan might fit the bill.
- Crowdfunding: With a strong consumer pitch, crowdfunding might be the solution.
Business Monitoring Organizations That Could Help
A helping hand can go a long way toward making your business goals a reality. Here’s where you might find the help you need
- Women’s Business Center: You can find classes and other support for women building their business.
- Chamber of Commerce: Your local Chamber of Commerce can help you root out opportunities in your area.
A manufacturing grant can make all the difference to the trajectory of your business. As you grow your company, look to grants as an opportunity for free money. When you build an application, take the time to make a compelling case for why your business deserves the funding opportunity.