Does Your Business Qualify for a Small Business Grant?

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is giving $5,000 grants to small businesses

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Many small businesses have been left out of national grant and loan programs.

For example, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that ran out of its initial funds less than 2 weeks after opening. The Small Business Association (SBA) has also stopped accepting new applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Emergency Advance as it was inundated with applications.

In response, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched the Save Small Business Fund on April 20 to award certain small businesses $5,000 grants — but not every small business qualifies.

The grant is designed to help small businesses most severely affected by COVID-19.

What does “most affected” mean? It all comes down to your zip code and whether or not it’s deemed an “economically vulnerable community.”

This designation now applies to 80% of the “most distressed” neighborhoods in the country, according to the Distressed Communities Index.

You can input your small businesses’ zip code to see if you qualify. If your business is located in a qualifying zip code, you must also employ between 3 to 20 people and need to have been “harmed financially” by the pandemic. The application is quick and simple, but given the precedence of such funds it’s critical to apply as soon as possible.

What you need to apply for a SMB grant

You’ll need to gather your business’ W-9 form and basic information (like street address) — that’s it. The application only takes about 10 minutes to complete. In order to help as many small businesses as possible, grants will be awarded on a weekly basis.

If you don’t get awarded the week you apply, you still only need to apply once. The grants are slated to be awarded on a first come, first serve basis (so your application might be awarded in future weeks).

Small businesses that are awarded need to wait 3 to 5 days for payment processing. Grants awarded will also be scaled in relation to demand and available funds.

The Foundation says that although a $5,000 grant won’t help with all expenses, their hope is that it will make a solid dent in lost revenue and other challenges during these unprecedented times.

Who might not qualify?

It’s important to remember that employees play a critical part in this program. You cannot count freelancers or independent contractors as your employees. Many small non-profits that depend entirely on volunteers and do not have at least 3 employees also will not qualify.

However, this grant is unique in that it’s maintaining a strict definition of “small” business.

Setting a 20-employee maximum as a criteria is helping keep larger businesses out of this pool of applicants, which increases qualifying small business’ odds of getting a grant.

A grant is unrestricted funds, which means you don’t need to pay these funds back. It’s also not a loan followed by a loan forgiveness option, which means virtually no paperwork is needed to keep these funds.

However, keep in mind that grants are considered taxable income. This grant will affect your end of year taxes and must be claimed as revenue.

If you think your small business might qualify, check your zip code and get started on your application right away. There’s no telling when these funds will run out, so the sooner you apply the better your chances of getting the grant.

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