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Small-business grants can provide funding for your business that you won’t need to repay, which can be especially appealing when starting or growing your business in Florida. Business grants are available for a wide range of purposes, from covering administrative costs and business expenses to funding research projects and beautifying the exterior of your storefront.
Our list of small-business grants for Florida businesses includes both state-specific and national options.
Florida small-business grants
These Florida-specific grants set aside for small businesses could be statewide, regional or city-specific, so be sure to read the requirements before devoting time to the application.
Florida High Tech Corridor grant
If your Florida startup is a high-tech company, you might be eligible for a Florida High Tech Corridor grant. These grants are designed for research and development projects and partner businesses with researchers at the University of Central Florida and the University of South Florida. Opportunities are available in 23 Florida counties.
Eligible businesses work with university researchers to create a project plan and budget, as well as to submit the application. Applications are accepted throughout the year. If approved, funds of up to $150,000 are distributed directly to the university research team.
Prospera small-business grants
Prospera has been helping Hispanic entrepreneurs start new businesses in Florida since 1991. This nonprofit economic development organization works with new and existing Hispanic business owners to help ensure they have the tools and resources needed to succeed.
Prospera grants are awarded on an individual basis and provide for professional services related to legal and accounting assessments, business plans, QuickBooks consulting, marketing plans and brand kits at no cost to the business owner.
Enterprise Florida trade grants
Florida export businesses can apply for a variety of business grants through the Florida Export Diversification and Expansion Program. Grants are offered for marketing plans, website localization, market development and trade shows.
Some basic eligibility requirements for an Enterprise Florida trade grant are that the business be located in Florida, be in operation for a minimum of two years, employ between three and 500 workers and have annual sales of $250,000 or more. Each individual grant has additional eligibility requirements.
Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network
Through the Florida SBDC State Trade Expansion Program, eligible export businesses can be reimbursed for export credit insurance, marketing plan costs and certain expenses related to trade shows and U.S. Department of Commerce promotional events. Limits for reimbursement depend on the expense, but there's a maximum of $15,000 per funding period. To be eligible for the grant, a business needs to be new to exporting or plan to use exporting to expand their business, among other requirements.
Floridians also have access to professional business consulting services through the SBDC at no cost. Certified consultants can help you with business planning, management, marketing, financial analysis, funding, international trade, cybersecurity and disaster preparedness. Also available are on-demand videos as well as live workshops and seminars, which may require a nominal fee to attend.
City of Orlando Business Assistance Program
The Business Assistance Program (BAP) is a matching grant administered through the Economic Development Department (EDD) with the goal of promoting small-business development and expansion in Orlando, Florida. Business owners will be responsible for 50% of eligible development fees, while the EDD will pay the remaining 50% — up to $20,000.
BAP can be used to help with transportation impact fees, permits and other development fees, as well as improvements such as sidewalk repairs, water line construction, street improvements, landscaping, street lighting, curb improvements and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Small-business owners must get city approval and the proper permits for their project before they can receive financing. Businesses must be located or relocating to the city of Orlando and be a small business as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency grants
North Miami CRA, an independent government agency, offers a number of commercial grant programs, including the Business Attraction Grant, Beautification and Enhancement Grant, Rehabilitation Grant and Capacity Building/Retention Grant. Grant maximum amounts range from $7,500 to $150,000, depending on the program.
Each program has specific requirements, but general eligibility requirements include that the business be within (or moving to a building within) the designated North Miami geographic boundary and the projects must show benefits to the community. The Business Attraction Grant and the Rehabilitation Grant require a 50% match by the business.
National grants available to Florida small businesses
You may also want to consider these national business grants to help fund your Florida small business.
Women entrepreneurs and small-business owners in Florida should be aware of the grants offered by WomensNet. This includes Amber Grant awards of $10,000 or $1,000 each month and a year-end Amber Grant worth $25,000. Other grants include the $10,000 Startup Grant awarded quarterly, $10,000 Business Category Grant awarded monthly and the annual Marketing Grant for marketing planning support.
To be eligible, a business needs to be at least 50% woman-owned and based in the U.S. or Canada. By completing one application, you’ll be considered for all the available grants. In addition to contact information, the application will ask you to explain your business and how you would spend the grant money. There is an application fee of $15.
» MORE: Small-business grants for women
National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) grant
NASE offers business development grants of up to $4,000 to small businesses and startups based in the U.S. It has awarded almost $1 million in small-business grants since the program began in 2006.
To be eligible for a NASE Growth Grant, you must be an active member of the organization for at least 90 days. In addition, you must demonstrate financial need, provide details on how your business will use the grant money, describe how receiving this grant will help your business thrive and provide a copy of your company’s business plan. You can join NASE for $11.95 a month.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest awards grants to small businesses across the U.S. each year. Typically, FedEx reserves this grant money for small businesses with innovative ideas and those demonstrating the greatest financial need. In 2023, FedEx named 10 grand prize winners to receive $30,000 and $1,000 in print services through this program.
Your business must be for-profit and have fewer than 99 employees to be eligible for the grant. Also, you’ll need to open and use a FedEx business shipping account. Additional eligibility requirements may apply.
America’s Seed Fund
Through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, America's Seed Fund offers grants designed to help U.S. small businesses in the technology sector.
For your business to be eligible for this grant, it must be U.S.-owned, for-profit and focused on research and development. You also must have fewer than 500 employees. To apply, you’ll submit a proposal that will be reviewed and may receive feedback to further refine your concept. Award amounts can range from $50,000 to nearly $2 million, depending on the phase of development.
Tips to find the right Florida small-business grant for you
The process of applying for small business grants may seem challenging, particularly as you’re trying to get your business off the ground. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you explore grant opportunities.
Schedule time for grant applications
Because starting a new business is often extremely time-consuming, it can be helpful to schedule time once a week or more to search for and apply to eligible grant opportunities. Be sure to thoroughly research eligibility requirements to ensure your company fits all of the grant’s criteria before allocating time to the application process.
Expand your search efforts
Look into local small-business grants in your area as well as explore demographic-specific searches that may apply to you or your business, such as:
Weigh grant application fees
Another important factor in applying for small-business grants in Florida is considering application fees. When you research eligible grants, consider the cost of applying versus the benefits you’ll receive. Keeping track of all possible grants you’ve researched, as well as their fees, can help you prioritize your application for affordable or no-cost grants.
Keep alternative funding in mind
Applying for small-business grants in Florida does not guarantee you’ll receive assistance or the amount you wanted. Grants are especially competitive because they provide debt-free funding. If you don’t receive grant money for your Florida business, there are other funding options to explore. Consider small-business loans, such as SBA loans. Your local Florida small-business bank may also be able to connect you to opportunities. Additionally, you may want to consider business credit cards or crowdfunding options to help fund your business.
Courtney Johnston, a freelance writer, contributed to this article.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.