Top Small-Business Grants in Ohio

Ohio entrepreneurs may want to consider grants offered through state, local and national programs to secure funding for their businesses.
Lisa Anthony
By Lisa Anthony 
Published
Edited by Sally Lauckner

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Small-business grants may be an enticing option when you’re looking for funding for your Ohio business. However, because the competition is strong and the application process requires time and effort, you’ll want to research grant programs to find the ones that are a good match for your business needs.

Here’s a list of some small-business grants available to Ohio businesses and some additional resources that may be helpful in the grant application process.

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Ohio-specific small-business grants

State, regional and city grant programs are available to Ohio businesses. However, before investing time and effort in the application process, it’s important to confirm that the grant program is funded for the current fiscal year.

Ohio Department of Development Grants

The Ohio Department of Development offers services to businesses within the state, including a number of grant programs:

  • International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE). Eligible businesses can receive up to $10,000 per year to reimburse 50% of the expenses they incur while expanding their export sales. Businesses must be for-profit, have an exportable product or service and be in operation for at least a year (among other requirements) in order to be eligible for this grant.

  • Ohio Meat Processing Grant. Ohio livestock and poultry producers can receive grants of up to $250,000 to reimburse costs related to improved processing, food safety, expanded operations and worker training. The processing facility must be located in Ohio and be for-profit.

JobsOhio Inclusion Grant

JobsOhio is a nonprofit, private economic development corporation located in Columbus, Ohio. It offers the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant (JOIG) which is designed for small to medium-sized businesses in distressed communities as well as those that are minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned businesses or owned by an individual with a disability. To be eligible, a business must be in operation for at least a year and have revenue between $100,000 and $25 million. Grant amounts go up to $50,000 for eligible costs such as machinery, equipment, buildings, new construction, land, technical improvements, revitalization costs and more.

Toledo city grant programs

Through the Department of Economic Development, the following grants are available to Toledo businesses:

  • Facade Improvement Grant Program. This program reimburses 50% of the eligible costs incurred to improve the exterior of your business building. Reimbursements can go up to $40,000, but the minimum is $10,000. Applicants must own or be in the process of buying the building and also be current on taxes, utilities and other obligations to government agencies.

  • White Box Grant Program. This program reimburses 70% of eligible interior renovation costs needed to meet building code and accessibility requirements. The minimum reimbursement is $25,000 with a maximum amount of $75,000. Applicants must be the owner of the building at the time the grant is awarded and be current on payments to federal and local government agencies.

Cleveland Tech Delta Program

Tech and medical companies moving to or expanding within Cleveland may be interested in the Tech Delta Program managed by the Cleveland Department of Economic Development. Grants are offered based on square footage ($5 per square foot) up to a maximum of $50,000. To be eligible, the for-profit business must create a minimum of five new, full-time jobs as a result of the move or expansion to Cleveland.

Building Facade & Sustainability Grants for Oxford Businesses

The city of Oxford, Ohio, offers Building Facade & Sustainability Grants of up to $2,500 (or 50% of the project cost) for business facade improvements as well as upgrades to HVAC, insulation, and energy and water efficiency. Grant funds are released to businesses after the improvements are completed. Businesses must have been operating in Oxford for at least one year. Applications are now open and will be accepted until Feb. 29, 2024. Grant recipients will be announced in March.

City of Lorain Non-profit Capital & Critical Improvement Fund (NCCIF) Program

The city of Lorain’s Building, Housing, and Planning Department is offering the Lorain Non-profit Capital & Critical Improvement Fund (NCCIF) Program to nonprofit organizations located in the city. Funds can be used for improvements to the interior and exterior of buildings and expansion of to the facility. Awards can go as high as $75,000. To be eligible, organizations must have tax-exempt status with the IRS and provide services to individuals living in Lorain.

Montgomery County Economic Development/Government Equity Grant

For businesses in Dayton and the surrounding area, the county offers the Montgomery County ED/GE Grant. This program awards funds in the spring and fall of each year. Grant funds can be used for new construction, renovations, utility upgrades, parking and other permanent improvement projects. Local jurisdictions apply for the funding on behalf of the business.

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National grant programs available to Ohio small businesses

Numerous small-business grants offered by the federal government and corporations are available to Ohio small businesses. Here are a few to consider:

Grants.gov

Government small-business grants administered by various federal agencies can be found on Grants.gov as well as information on the grant process. Numerous federal agencies offer grants including the U.S Department of Labor, National Endowment for the Arts and the National Science Foundation.

Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs

Through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Program for Investors in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) is designed to help low-income entrepreneurs access funding to start or expand their small businesses. PRIME grants are awarded to microenterprise development organizations so that they can provide access to capital, training and technical assistance to disadvantaged microentrepreneurs.

America’s Seed Fund

Designed to benefit small businesses in the technology sector, America's Seed Fund offers grants ranging from $50,000 to $1.8 million. Funding is through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For-profit businesses operating in the U.S. with fewer than 500 employees are eligible. Awards are distributed through three phases from proof of concept to development to commercialization.

WomensNet Grants

Women small-business owners in Ohio may want to consider the grants offered by WomensNet. Amber Grants, Startup Grants and Business Category Grants are awarded monthly in the amount of $10,000, with separate $25,000 grants for each of the three categories given at the end of the year. Businesses aren’t required to select a category, but will be considered for all three when completing an application.

Kitty Fund Mompreneur Business Grant

The Kitty Fund Mompreneur Business Grant is a national grant program available to mother-owned businesses with two or more employees. Micro grants of $1,000 will be awarded to 25 businesses. Pre-registration is now open, with the full application launching in March 2024.

Military Entrepreneur Challenge

The Military Entrepreneur Challenge (MEC), run by the Second Service Foundation, is a national grant program for veterans, their spouses and Gold Star Family entrepreneurs. It’s a three-part program that ends with an opportunity to win a small grant for your small business. Grant awards vary by event.

Free resources for Ohio small businesses

There are free resources available to Ohio small businesses that can help you prepare for a grant application and other types of funding.

Ohio Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Whether starting a small business or expanding an existing company, your local Small Business Development Center can be a source of free or low-cost business counseling, workshops and assistance with services such as financial projections, cash flow analysis, funding sourcing and marketing research. Centers are located throughout the state of Ohio.

SCORE

SCORE is a nonprofit organization with a national network of volunteer business mentors. Mentors offer advice on business planning, financing and other topics at no cost. In addition, SCORE provides training, webinars, courses and online resources. SCORE offices can be found in Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and other areas in the state.

Minority Business Assistance Centers

Free assistance is available to small, minority-owned, and disadvantaged businesses through Minority Business Assistance Centers located throughout Ohio. This includes services such as accounting assistance, marketing plan development, referrals to financial assistance programs and more.

Tips when applying for small-business grants

Confirm the grant is available

Some grants are funded for a limited time. Before you invest time in preparing an application, contact the organization by phone or email to confirm the grant is still offered if information about application dates isn’t clearly provided on the grant website.

Be aware of key dates

The application windows for grant programs vary, so it’s important to allow enough time to submit a complete application before the deadline. Also, if the award date falls beyond the time you need funding, the grant program may not be the best option for your business.

Review eligibility requirements

Grant programs have eligibility requirements based on the goal of the program. If possible, try to find a program that is a good fit for your business. This will allow you to highlight applicable aspects of your business that align with the grant program goals.

For example, there are grant programs designed for specific types of businesses, such as startup business grants, as well as grants targeting specific groups of entrepreneurs, like grants for Black women, grants for LGBTQ+ business owners and business grants for people previously convicted of felonies.

Consider funding alternatives

Grants may not be the best funding option for your small business, especially if you need money quickly. A small-business loan may be a good alternative with options such as bank loans and SBA loans as well as a variety of financing offered by online lenders. Bank and SBA loans typically offer the best rates and terms, but online lenders tend to be more flexible in their requirements and can often provide funds quickly.

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