Small Business Grants Support New Retail Spaces, Energy Efficient Upgrades

Grants can help small businesses achieve a variety of goals for the new year, from trying new retail formats to investing in renewable energy. There are several programs currently running that may impact small businesses in various ways. Here’s a closer look at a few.

Chicago Vacant Storefront Grant Program

Chicago is testing a new grant program as a way to fill vacant storefronts. The city just awarded around $3 million in grants to community organizations, which will now be responsible for identifying vacant storefronts in their neighborhoods, negotiating lease terms, and then arranging new ventures by partnering with local businesses. For example, some may host pop-up shops, retail incubators, or markets to showcase unique products from local sellers. This isn’t a grant opportunity that will provide direct financial assistance to businesses. However, the 15 organizations that received funds are likely to provide plenty of opportunities for sellers in their communities.

grants to support new retail spaces

Oklahoma Rural Energy for America Program

The USDA Office in Oklahoma is currently accepting applications for its Rural Energy for America program. The program aims to help small businesses and farms in rural areas throughout the state by providing financial support for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects. Eligible businesses can apply for up to 50 percent financial assistance for projects that meet the program’s criteria. This is the second year the program has run in Oklahoma. Applications opened January 1 and must be submitted by March 31.

Braintree Small Business Grants

Braintree, Massachusetts, is setting aside $300,000 from an economic development fund for local business grants. Eligible businesses with a physical presence in Braintree can apply for $5,000 grants to cover various improvements. Eligible projects may include anything from storefront enhancements to tech upgrades and marketing.

Seguin Business Improvement Grant

Seguin, Texas, is currently accepting applications for its Business Improvement Grant (BIG) program. BIG is a reimbursement program that will provide grants that match up to 75 percent of eligible improvements, up to $10,000. Applications are available online now and are due by the last day of each month. The city will then review applications each month on a rolling basis as long as funding remains available.

UT Dallas Community Booster Program

The University of Texas at Dallas Small Business Booster Program Retail Track is a six-week program that provides guidance, resources, and individualized assistance to local businesses. The program is partially funded through a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration and is open to small entrepreneurial teams of two or three members. The program is open to various retail businesses, from physical stores to e-commerce businesses. It will cover various elements, from marketing to accounting. And participants may gain access to other benefits as well.

Small Business Deals

Greene County American Rescue Plan Act Program

Greene County, Missouri, recently awarded $634,099 to 51 small businesses during the latest funding round for its American Rescue Plan Act program. This paid down much of the county’s allocation of federal funds, which must be spent by December 31, 2024. So far, the county has awarded more than $5.4 million. And about $1.4 million remains in the program’s fund, with about 100 pending applications to still go through. Once the funds from this round have been finalized, the County Commission will decide how to allocate the remaining funds.

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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