Very few grants are available to start or expand a for-profit business unless you have invented a new technology. Most grants are available to non-profits and community organizations to expand their work or to fund special projects and activities.
SBIR/STTR Grants: With few exceptions, most grants available to for-profit start-up businesses are SBIR and STTR grants (Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Research). If you have invented an innovative product that will serve the national interest, you may qualify for an SBIR or an STTR grant to help develop it. Grants are offered by 11 federal agencies through a competitive process. Information is available at SBIR.gov.
If you think you may qualify for an SBIR grant, contact your nearest Small Business Development Center for assistance in applying.
Grants for Innovation: If you own an existing for-profit business (not a start-up) that is engaged in the development of new processes or technologies or uses natural resources in an innovative way, you may qualify for a research grant. To find grant opportunities, see the following:
- Assistance Listings (formerly Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance)
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development – grants for special business activities in rural communities
- U.S. Department of Energy and Sustainable Energy Programs
- U.S. Department of Justice
- U.S. Department of Education
- National Institute of Health
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation – WaterSMART Grants
Made in America Grants: If you are a manufacturer of a product that is made in America and you have problems competing with foreign businesses, you may be eligible for assistance through the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center. Eligible businesses must be located in Idaho, Alaska, Oregon or Washington.
U.S. Economic Development Administration: Economic development assistance and disaster recovery grants – available to communities and tribes
Agriculture Loans and Grants: The Idaho Department of Agriculture offers several financial programs.
USDA Rural Development: Rural Development Business Programs – Idaho
Idaho Regional Travel Grant Program – available to chambers, visitors centers, travel councils and other community organizations to promote tourism in their area
FedEx Small Business Grants
National Association for the Self-Employed micro grants
Wells Fargo Grants: available to community organizations and nonprofits for community development activities
Idaho Power Local Energy Efficiency Funds – grants for energy conservation projects
Amber Grants for Women – Monthly grants of $500 are offered. At the end of the year, one of the monthly winners will receive an additional $25,000. See WomensNet for details.
Best Buy Community Grants – Available to community organizations that provide programs to develop the technology skills of teens. Application deadline varies and restrictions apply.
Chobani Community Impact Fund – available to businesses in the Magic Valley to expand economic opportunity and promote entrepreneurship
Non-profits: If you are a non-profit organization, these sites will be helpful:
Other Programs: Special business assistance programs for women, minorities, veterans, the disabled, and others are available, but they are usually for low interest loans, government contracting opportunities, and other types of assistance, not grants.
Tax Incentives: Your business may qualify for tax incentives (tax credits) for certain business activities, such as creating new jobs in an economically depressed area, hiring the long-term unemployed, or making workplace accommodations for a disabled employee. Incentives are offered at both the state and federal levels. State programs are listed on the Idaho Department of Commerce website. To find federal tax incentives, visit the Internal Revenue Service website.
SCOR/U-7 Finance Program: The Small Company Offering Regulations program administered by the Idaho Department of Finance enables established businesses to accept investment funds from qualified Idaho investors without registering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Challenge.gov: Government agencies having a specific need list it on Challenge.gov. Businesses and individuals can submit a solution. The needs regularly change, as do the requirements to submit a proposal.
To learn about funding for which your business may qualify, talk with a counselor at the Boise or Spokane Small Business Administration offices, the Idaho Small Business Development Center, or a SCORE counselor. Contact information for each organization is listed in the Assistance Resources section of this site. Counseling services are free.