The best grants in Florida for small businesses

The Best Small Business Grants in Florida

November 8, 2022
5 minutes read

Between its entrepreneurial climate and lenient tax policies, Florida is one of the best places to start a small business. If you’re looking for funding (that doesn’t need to be repaid) to launch your Florida business and help it grow, we cover 14 great options for small business grants in this very article. 

Some grants have very specific requirements based on industry (like the Florida High-Tech Corridor grants) or your location (like the USDA Rural Business Development Grant in Florida.) Some grants provide services rather than money, like the Prospera Small Business Grants. Other grants provide funding for a wide range of business needs, like the Miami Mom and Pop Small Business Grants. But we’ll get more into the specifics later. 

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about which grants are available for small businesses within Florida, the best options currently available for grant funding, and how you can go about getting business grants in Florida. Let’s jump into it! 

Small business grants in Florida: The 14 best options

We’ll preface this by saying that these grants aren’t just a free-for-all—most of them require specific qualifications you have to meet, and some can unfortunately be quite competitive. But don’t worry, we’re rooting for you and will help set you up for success! As long as you carefully read the eligibility requirements and put your best foot forward, applying for small business grants in Florida is still worth it: You and your business might be the perfect fit!

Alright, now let’s get into the most up-to-date information on the 14 best options for small business grants in Florida. 

Enterprise Florida Grants

Enterprise Florida offers several grants for Florida small businesses. Currently, they’re offering trade grants through the Florida Export Diversification & Expansion program to help businesses interested in exporting for the first time. They also offer trade grants for Virtual Business Matchmaking, aimed at helping you virtually meet with potential agents, distributors, or partners for expanding your company globally (without all the travel).   

Even if you don’t end up qualifying for one of their grants, Enterprise Florida is a great resource for small businesses you should check out. They offer training, development options, loans, and services for small and minority businesses. 

Florida High-Tech Corridor Grants

Calling all small business owners who specialize in cutting-edge technology! This one's for you. Funding from the Florida High-Tech Corridor comes from three Florida universities, who also offer partnerships. There are two grants you can apply for, valued up to $150,000. These grants are fairly competitive, and the types of eligible projects are pretty specific.    

Florida Trade Show Grants

This is another grant offered by Enterprise Florida aimed at helping small- to medium-sized businesses in Florida increase their export sales and expand into international markets. Enterprise Florida will reimburse 75% of certain trade show booth costs, up to $7,500.

Florida Export Marketing Grants

On a similar note, Enterprise Florida also offers grants specifically for Export Marketing Plans to identify international growth strategies specifically for your business. The service costs $5,000, and the grant will reimburse $4,500. 

USDA Rural Business Development Grant in Florida

If your small business is in a rural part of Florida, a USDA Rural Business Development Grant could be for you. Funds can be used for training and technical assistance, acquisition or development of land, and more. There are also opportunity grants that can go toward community economic development, leadership and entrepreneur training, and other things. There is no maximum grant amount, but smaller requests are prioritized. The average range is between $10,000 to $500,000 (cha-ching, cha-ching 🤑).

Florida Prospera Small Business Grants

Prospera doesn’t grant money, but it does award grants for professional services, like legal help, accounting help, creating business plans, and branding, for free. They’re based on individual needs and opportunities. 

Amber Grant

The Amber Grant, worth $10,000, is awarded every month to a women-owned small business in North America. If you are one of the recipients, you can also apply to another Amber Grant at the end of the year worth $25,000. According to the Amber Grant website, they “are looking for passion as well as business smarts.”   

National Association for the Self-Employed Grant

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) offers grants up to $4,000 for small businesses in the US. To be eligible, you need to be a NASE member (for over 90 days) and demonstrate financial need to fulfill a business need. You can use the grant toward marketing and advertising, hiring employees, and generally growing your business. 

Federal Minority Business Grants

Federal Minority Business Grants are available to small business owners in the US who are considered minorities based on ethnicity, gender, or disability status. The amount of funding received will depend on your financial need, industry, and the size of your business. You can search for minority business grants on the website.   

Small Business Research Grants

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs are available to US small businesses in the science and tech industry through the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

North Miami Small Business Grant

If you are operating within the city of North Miami, have less than 7 employees, and are in the low-to-moderate income range, you should apply for the North Miami Regular Business Stabilization Grant. This grant, which was created to preserve North Miami’s business environment in light of COVID-19, awards $1000 to help with inventory, supplies, and services that may have been adversely affected by the pandemic. 

North Miami also welcomes applications to its Legacy Business Grant and Smart Biz Micro Grant.  

Seminole County's Small Business Assistance Program

This is another grant used to support small businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. The grant, which is part of the Seminole County Small Business Assistance Program, can be used for rent or mortgage, payroll, utilities, any goods or services related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19, or technology for remote work. You could receive between $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the size of your business and how many employees you have. 

Orlando Business Assistance Program

Interested in moving to, expanding, or redeveloping in Orlando? The Business Assistance Program (BAP) can help. BAP provides matching funds to businesses to help offset any development fees and other costs that come with relocating. Be aware that you must pay 50% of these costs and BAP will cover the other half, up to $20,000.

Miami Mom and Pop Small Business Grants

The Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program offers funding for small businesses for a wide variety of things, including equipment, marketing, insurance, security, renovations, and more. Each district in Miami-Dade County has its own application, and each district may have different application requirements. But generally speaking, any for-profit business with a physical address that is not part of a chain can apply. 

Additional Florida small business grant resources

Keep in mind the grant options we've outlined are just the tip of the iceberg—there may be more options depending on your business type, industry, location, and your own background. 

While the grants we covered were mainly applicable to Florida, don’t forget about checking out other federal, regional, or city-specific grants too! We suggest searching local, state-wide, and federal websites; business centers; and business organizations to find grant opportunities for small businesses. You can also search for grants specific to your industry or your business’s mission. 

How to find the best small business grants in Florida for you

That being said, with so many small businesses grants out there, how do you find the best ones for you to apply to? Searching for and applying for grants can seem daunting, but there are some manageable steps to make it a little less headache-inducing. 

Devote time to applying for grants

We know, we know. Entrepreneurship is hard work, and the last thing you want is another plate to spin. But it's important for small business owners to set aside time in their busy schedules to apply for grants since it’s literally free money. 

The best way to do this? Actually blocking off time in your calendar for applying for grants. This can look like an hour each day after dinner, or two hours every Wednesday at 9 AM, or whatever works with your schedule. Be sure to choose something realistic and manageable so it’s easier to stick with!

Something that can make the process smoother (and seem less scary) is to create a spreadsheet or document to track the grants you’re applying for, their requirements, and their deadlines. You can compile a list of promising-sounding grants and cross them off once you’ve applied. 

Assess grant application fees

Another major consideration is the fee associated with some grant applications, since some cost more than others to apply to. 

Remember how we suggested creating a spreadsheet in that last section? We also recommend including a section that records any costs associated with an application to help you assess if applying for a grant is worth it. If the fee is super expensive and the application process requires a lot of your time on top of that (or if the competition is fierce), it might not be worth applying to in the end. Follow your instincts and do what feels best for you. 

Consider Florida small business grant alternatives

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Unfortunately, applying for grants doesn’t always mean you’ll end up receiving them. You should bake other funding alternatives into your plan, such as getting a small business loan through a Florida small business bank, finding investors, or crowdfunding.

The benefits of small business grants in Florida

So, why bother applying for grants in the first place—is it really worth all the trouble? 

The answer? Definitely. Grants provide you with free funds and/or services, which can go a long way for funding and growing your business. 

Plus, Florida is a great place to start and grow a small business. Florida has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, which is reflected in the fact that it had the highest number of new business applications in the US between January 2021 to January 2022, according to the US Census Bureau. There are also appealing tax policies in Florida, including no income tax, and the Sunshine State has the sixth lowest tax burden in the US. 

Getting started with small business grants in Florida

Research is the first step in getting started with small business grants; you can look into grants based on your location, industry, or personal background. Before putting a bunch of time and effort into applying for a grant, remember to carefully read the eligibility requirements so you don’t waste your time applying for something you don’t qualify for in the first place. 

It’s also important to make sure you have a solid plan to use the grant money the way it was intended to be used, since most funds come with specific stipulations. Some grant applications will need you to explicitly spell out how you intend to use the funds, and how your business goals align with their mission. 

Most grants will also require a grant proposal and supporting documents, so be prepared. You can check out our article on grant proposals to learn how to write an effective one, and then modify it based on the requirements of each grant to save yourself some time. 

One last tip: Please pay close attention to application deadlines! Grants are very strict about this, and submitting even a minute late could disqualify you and ruin all that hard work you put in. 

Now you have all the info you need to find great grant opportunities in Florida, and an idea of what to expect when applying. Even though applying for grants can be competitive, doing careful research and submitting a great application can put you ahead of the pack. Happy applying, and good luck! 

By Sophia Savva

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.

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