With major economic hubs such as Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay, Florida ranks number three in terms of states with the highest number of small businesses. The state’s 2.5 million small businesses rank it behind only California and Texas.
With a high number of such businesses, however, comes a high amount of pain: the Sunshine State saw over 32% of its small businesses permanently or temporarily close during the height of the pandemic, one of the highest figures in the country.
With yet another national recession looming on the horizon, getting free money has never been more important to the survival of the state’s small businesses. Fortunately, there are several small business grants and contests still available to small businesses in Florida on both a state and national level. On a national level, there are grants and contests that are still open that can land you a large pool of money and are worth applying for:
Kapitus’ $250K Building Resilient Businesses Contest – Deadline is Looming!
Kapitus has launched its Building Resilient Businesses contest, in which one first-place winner will receive $100,000; one second-place winner will receive $50,000 and five third-place winners will each receive $20,000. To enter, simply send a homemade, 2-minute video briefly describing your business, how it was able to persevere over the last two years, and how you would spend $100,000. The contest is open to all small businesses in the US (excluding Vermont and Colorado) that have been in business for at least a year and have less than $5 million in annual revenue. The deadline to apply is June 30, 2022. To enter the contest, click here.
WomensNet Amber Grant
Florida is home to 1.1 million women-owned small businesses, making it the state with the third-highest
total of those businesses, so the WomensNet Amber Grants are very applicable to the state. WomensNet gives away one $10,000 grant and four $1000 grants to women-owned businesses in distinct categories every month such as skilled trades (January), hair care and beauty products (August) and Creative Arts (October). The site also gives grants of $25,000 to two businesses each at the end of each year, with both of them being previous $10,000 monthly grant winners. Applications are due on the last day of every month. To apply, click here.
American Express and Main Street America’s Inclusive Backing Grants
AmEx and Main Street America are providing more than 300 grants of $5,000 each over four cycles throughout 2022 to small businesses located in older or historic commercial districts with priority to be given to small businesses owned by the LGBTQ+ community, Hispanic-owned, veteran-owned, and business owners who are women and people of color. Applications for the fourth grant cycle are now being accepted by business owners who identify as native or indigenous people, Hispanic, LGBTQ+ and immigrants and refugees. Membership in the National Main Street Center is not required. Applications for the fourth grant cycle can be found here.
State-Level: Open to Florida Small Businesses Only
Currently, there are several grant programs that are still available for small businesses operating in Florida to apply to.
Florida High Tech Research Grants
The Florida High Tech Research Corridor is a public-private partnership between successful high-tech startups in the 23-county region of southern and central Florida and the Universities of Central and South Florida.
The Corridor provides up to $150,000 in funds for applied research projects between private startups and small high-tech firms and university researchers. Funding is provided directly to the university research team and is used to expand the project’s scope of work and allow our students to participate in cutting-edge, applied research. Industry partners must execute a sponsored research agreement with the university to formalize the project plan and terms. To learn more, click here.
Axis Helps Miami Small Business Grants
Axis Helps Miami, a resource company for small businesses in the Miami-Dade area of the state, is offering several grant opportunities to various small businesses. One is a $50,000 grant to women- and minority-owned small businesses in the area and will include consulting services as well as free advertising at Miami Heat games and partnership endorsements for your business.
The deadline to apply is July 11, 2022. Another grant will provide $20,000 to small businesses in the area that are looking to scale up but don’t have the funds to do so. The deadline for that grant is July 15, 2022. To explore each grant program Axis Helps Miami is offering, click here.
Seminole County’s Small Business Assistance Program
Since 2021, Seminole County has been giving grants to small businesses in the county of up to $15,000 to support expenses such as payroll, office utilities and remote access equipment. Applicants must be a for-profit business within Seminole County since at least the beginning of 2020 and must be a member of Sunbiz, a website maintained by Florida state government’s Division of Corporations. Applicants must provide their taxpayer identification number. Commercially zoned businesses with 26-50 employees will receive $15,000 if chosen, while businesses with 2-25 employees will receive $10,000 if chosen. Home- or mobile-based businesses with no more than one employee in addition to the owner can receive $5,000. For more information, click here.
CareerSource Florida’s Incumbent Worker Training Grant – Apply Soon!
CareerSource Florida is awarding up to $100,000 to any small business owner in the Sunshine state who is seeking to train existing employees with new skills. The employee must work at least 37.5 hours per week and must have been employed with the applicant for a minimum of six months. Those interested must register with CareerSource Florida’s website. Deadline for applications is June 30, 2022. To apply, click here.
Enterprise Florida International’s (EFI) Virtual Business Matchmaking Grants
Enterprise Florida is offering grants of up to $2,500 for small businesses in the state interested in expanding overseas, but do not want to have to travel to set up an export program. The program includes virtual introductions with pre-screened overseas partners and distributors via teleconference or videoconference. The program also includes a grant that covers the full cost of matchmaker service, whether it is provided by EFI or the federal government’s US Commercial International Trade organization. Companies can apply year-round. Grants must be approved before the first day of virtual matchmaking appointments. For more information, click here.
Orlando Business Assistance Program
The city of Orlando isn’t just known for Disney World and Universal Studios, it’s also home to over 37,000 small businesses. The city’s Business Assistance Program provides grants throughout the year to assist businesses in relocating or expanding in Orlando, which include funds for development fees, permitting and other costs associated with relocating and expanding. Small businesses must pay half the related costs, and the grant amounts can be up to $20,000. To learn more about this program, click here.
If you’re a small business in Florida, any chance to gain access to funds would probably be welcome, as after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and current tough economic conditions such as high inflation, rising interest rates and an employee shortage are still rocking the economy. Act quickly, as many deadlines for small business grants and contests are coming up quickly.