Prior to the pandemic, there were very few grant options available for small businesses. When the Covid pandemic was declared a national disaster, multiple rounds of federal and state grant funds were available to cover certain losses for existing businesses. Grant programs available for Covid-relief purposes are generally only available to those who can demonstrate pandemic-related loss and cannot be used to cover expenses already covered by other relief programs (PPP, EIDL Loan, etc). As we progress through the pandemic, there are fewer and fewer of these opportunities.
The Maine Department of Economic & Community Development has compiled a list of grant opportunities and financial resources in Maine. In addition, the Women’s Business Center has compiled a list of grant resources that includes initiatives like Coastal Enterprises Inc’s Tastemakers Program, Maine Technology Institute’s PRIME Fund, and the State’s Micro-Enterprise Program for those with low-to-moderate income.
Grant funding is generally set up to address a particular economic or social concern or issue. In most cases, grants are taxpayer funds that come from State and Federal sources. They come with strict qualifications, eligibility, record-keeping, and reporting requirements. Grants are often industry-specific (like this Childcare Grant) or target specific groups of people (like the Vocational Rehabilitation for disabled Mainers). If your business is a for-profit business operating as normal, it is very unlikely there are grant funds available to you.
While grant funds may not be available, there are many traditional and nontraditional low-cost loans that might be a good fit for you and your business. An SBDC advisor can help you determine which funding source is best for your business and situation. Reach out to a business advisor here.