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Using a grant to fund or expand your small businesses in Texas can be appealing. Unlike small-business loans, grants are free forms of funding that you don’t have to pay back. However, getting a Texas small-business grant requires an investment — time to research business grants you’re eligible for and complete applications.
A number of Texas small-business grants are offered through state programs, but there are also business grants offered by Texas cities as well as a few national grants that are available to small businesses operating anywhere in the U.S.
How Much Do You Need?
Texas state small-business grants
Texas state grant programs tend to have specific requirements, so keep that in mind as you browse through this list.
Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business Grant Program
The Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Skills for Small Business Program provides grant funding to small businesses to invest in training full-time employees. Employees can enroll in training offered by their local community colleges, technical colleges or the Texas Engineering Extension Service.
Businesses can receive up to $1,800 per year for each new employee and $900 for every existing employee. Your business must have fewer than 100 employees to be eligible for the TWC grant. Online applications for this TWC grant program are accepted at any time during the year.
Center for Women Entrepreneurs StartHER Grant
The Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Women’s University offers StartHER Grants in the amount of $5,000 to women-owned small businesses in Texas. Twenty-five grants will be awarded this year to businesses that are at least 51% owned/controlled by women who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Eligibility is also restricted to businesses with no more than five full-time employees — with two part-time employees equivalent to one full-time employee.
StartHER Grant funds can be used for a wide range of purposes from purchasing equipment, inventory or raw goods to marketing and social media campaigns. Applications for the 2023 grant cycle must be submitted by Oct. 20, with winners announced on Oct. 30.
» MORE: Business grants for women
Texas State Trade Expansion Program
To encourage Texas businesses to export to foreign markets and increase the value of exported goods and services, the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) awards grants of up to $10,000 to eligible small businesses that participate in select export activities. STEP requires businesses match 25% of the grant award up to $2,500.
Eligible businesses must be organized and operating in the U.S., meet industry-based business size standards, be in business for at least one year and demonstrate an understanding of the costs associated with exporting and conducting business transactions with foreign purchasers. It’s also required that the small business have a product or service that is manufactured, produced, processed or has some other value added in Texas.
Young Farmer Grants
Available through the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Young Farmer Grant program is designed to grow and support Texas agriculture. Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000 and are made on a reimbursement basis up to 50% of the expense.
The grant program is offered in the spring and fall of each year. Funds can be used to start or expand an agricultural business, not to simply maintain an existing operation. Applicants must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 45, and live and operate their business in Texas.
Texas Enterprise Fund
Businesses that want to open a new facility or expand an existing one may be eligible to receive a grant from the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). Eligible projects must generate at least 75 full-time jobs in urban areas or at least 25 full-time jobs in rural areas. Wages must meet or exceed the average county wage where the project will be located. The project must also be supported by the local county government where it takes place.
Awards typically range from $1,000 to $10,000 per qualified job. Amounts are calculated based on an analytical model that uses factors such as the average wage for new employees, the number of jobs created and the company’s total proposed capital investment.
The application process involves a lengthy due diligence that includes areas such as project competitiveness, estimated economic impact, financial standing, tax status, credit ratings and legal issues among other things.
Texas city-specific business grants
In addition to state programs, the following cities in Texas offer grants to small-business entrepreneurs located in their communities.
Open for Business Grant Program in Houston
The Wells Fargo Open for Business Grant Program is designed to advance the mission of the Houston Equity Fund by investing in diverse-owned small businesses with 100 or fewer employees located in vulnerable communities in Houston. Grants can range from $5,000 to $100,000 and can be used for the purchase of property, equipment and other assets.
This grant program is being administered in three rounds. The application process for round three will open in 2024.
Amegy Bank Small Business Boost Program
The Amegy Bank Small Business Boost Program, created by Amegy Bank and the Houston Texan football franchise, is available to small businesses in the greater Houston area. Program winners receive a $5,000 grant, access to event opportunities and marketing and promotional support.
To be eligible for the program, the business must be small, operate for profit, have annual revenue of less than $20 million and fewer than 500 employees. The application period closes on Nov. 15, 2023.
Dayton Community Development Corporation grant programs
Dayton Community Development Corporation offers grants for small businesses that focus on the Downtown District of Dayton. To qualify for these programs, businesses must be within designated locations in the city.
The Dayton Downtown Improvement Grant provides up to $25,000, as a 50% match for activities such as interior renovations, signage, landscaping and improvement to the building and parking lot. Along the same lines, the Dayton Small Business Grant offers funding up to $7,500 for exterior projects and also $7,500 for interior projects — on a 50% match basis.
San Antonio Economic Development Department grant programs
The San Antonio Economic Development Department grant programs are available to small businesses in the city. A variety of grants are offered to assist businesses with exterior improvements, noise mitigations, improved outdoor amenities, increased staffing and expanding into new markets.
Grant amounts are available from $2,000 to $50,000, depending on the program. Specific details about each grant program including application deadlines are available on the EDD website.
Lubbock Economic Development Alliance grants
Lubbock Economic Development Alliance grant programs are open to businesses located in downtown Lubbock or in a designated commercial revitalization area. The Commercial Revitalization Grant Program is designed to assist with expenses related to property improvements with reimbursements ranging from 10% to 50% of qualified expenses up to $50,000, depending on the project.
In addition to being located in the required areas, the applicant must be the owner or tenant of the property and be current on property taxes. Improvements must meet the city guidelines and the grant must be made before starting construction.
The Alamo Small Business Grant Program
The Alamo Small Business Grant Program is available to businesses located in the city of Alamo. It provides 50% reimbursement, up to $2,500, for projects such as storefront improvements, signage, repairs, renovations and equipment purchases.
For a business to qualify for the Alamo Small Business Grant, it must have been in operation for a minimum of 24 consecutive months. Also, the business owner must have a yearly lease. In addition to completing an application, owners will need to describe their business, their project and the project budget. Tax returns for the past two years and documented leases from the business's landlord agreeing to the project are also required.
National grant programs available to Texas small businesses
There are a number of small-business grants that aren’t limited to specific states or cities, such as the following:
America’s Seed Fund
Small businesses in the technology sector can apply for America's Seed Fund offered through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. To be eligible for this grant, the business must be for-profit, operated in the U.S. and have fewer than 500 employees.
There are three phases of the program that include proof of consent, technology development and commercialization. Awards are given at different phases and amounts can range from $50,000 to $1.8 million.
Amber Grants offered through WomensNet is a leading grant program for women entrepreneurs. Amber Grant awards are given out monthly, quarterly and at year-end with amounts ranging from $1,000 to $25,000.
Businesses can apply online and be considered for all the available grant programs. To be eligible for an Amber Grant, a business must be at least 50% owned by women and based in the U.S. or Canada.
NASE Growth Grant
The National Association for the Self-Employed offers NASE Growth Grants of up to $4,000 to business owners in the U.S. who have been active members of the organization for a minimum of 90 days. Grant applications are reviewed quarterly.
You can apply online and will be asked to describe your financial need and also explain how the funds will be used and the impact that the grant money would have on the success of your business.
Tips to finding the right grant program for your small business
Understand your eligibility
Business grant programs are highly competitive. While this shouldn’t discourage you from applying, you’ll save time and effort by carefully reviewing the eligibility requirements of each program.
Fully understanding your business’s eligibility may also lead you to find unique aspects of your business that you can highlight in the application process or even grants designed for your specific situation. For example, there are small-business grants for veterans, startup business grants and business grants for people previously convicted of felonies.
Note application deadlines and awards dates
Grant programs generally have hard deadlines for application so you’ll need to set aside adequate time to complete the process, especially if you want your submission to be a winner. In some cases, you’ll also be asked to submit documentation for your business and the projects you plan to use the grant funds for.
Award dates are also important. If you require the funds quickly, then a grant program with an awards date that’s six months away may not meet the needs of your business.
Consider financing alternatives
If you don’t have time to go through the grant process, you may want to consider alternative ways to finance your business, such as a small-business loan. In addition to bank loans and SBA loans, there are small-business loans and lines of credit offered by online lenders. Although banks typically offer the best rates and terms, online business loans can have more flexible requirements and be funded quickly, within days in some cases.
A version of this article originally appeared on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.