Free Financing – Small Business Grant Transforms Miami Mom-and-Pop Upholstery Shop

After close to four decades making old furniture look like new for communities in Miami-Dade County, the owner of Chair Care Upholstery in West Park, Fla., says business has never been better.

Aurora Ocasio credits an investment from the Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program with transforming morale at Chair Care Upholstery, which, in turn, has played a significant role in improving customer relationships and productivity.

Since 1999, the Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program has been providing financial and technical assistance to for-profits like Chair Care Upholstery in all 13 districts of Miami-Dade through the County Commissioner’s office. Small business that offer projects with a green or sustainability initiative receive an additional $1,000.

Beyond Florida and across the nation, policymakers are increasingly adopting plans that provide capital and technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs. But, Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said despite government investments in the local economies, far too many small businesses are missing out on these opportunities to benefit their operations.

At least 60 percent of small businesses have never applied for funds to support their initiatives, according to BMO Wealth Management, which surveyed more than 1,000 small businesses in the United States. More than a third of these small businesses choose not to seek funds for fear of taking on additional debt.

But, Hikind said, unlike loans, government grants are forms of free financing for small businesses. She said MWBEzone.com, an ancillary service of GrantWatch, lists government grants and contracts available to small businesses.  Women and minority-owned firms generally get added point when applying for government grants. MWBEzone access is part of the GrantWatch.com subscription.  Libby Hikind said, "We separated the grants available for small business and individuals to simplify the search – one subscription – get two websites."

Funding through the Miami-Dade Small Business Grant Program can be applied to purchase inventory and supplies, equipment, marketing and advertising, building and business insurance, minor renovations, security systems, work vehicles, and professional services.   

Another 44 percent of mall businesses, according to the survey, weren’t sure how to apply for a grant, and another third were unaware debt-free funds were available. MWBEzone makes the search for identifying federal and local financing simple. Grants are listed online by industry or by specific location. Each funding opportunity will offer a grant summary, amount of award, eligibility requirements, and open and closing dates.

Small business earnings have reached a 45-year high, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Yet, some economists believe the new tax law and lower regulatory barriers will fuel even further optimism across small business sectors. Thanks, to a small business grant, Chair Care Upholstery is on board.

“We are really excited about the future of our business, said Ocasio, who applied his mom and pop small business grant toward the purchase of a commercial sewing machine to be used to re-upholster sofas and chairs and, as a result, saves his customers money. “The support of this great city gives us a real feeling of hope and resilience in this great community.”

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for business grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend by signing up to GrantWatch. One subscription provides access to both MWBEzone.com and GrantWatch.com.

 

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

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City Grant for Small Businesses Has Cincinnati Pop-Up Shop Bursting at Seams

The newest business in Cincinnati is bursting at the seams, thanks to a grant from the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development which has enabled a woman entrepreneur to join the ranks of neighborhood pop-up shops.

Prior to her grand opening a couple of weeks ago, Corless Berry had operated her boutique, ChoZen 4 U, out of her home, where an inventory of unique, high-quality affordably priced apparel had begun to take over her living and dining rooms.

Berry said the grant, which offers up to $1,000 to small businesses to help with rent and non-structural needs, will give her the opportunity to pursue her passion and impact women and their style of dress in a much larger space.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com and MWBEzone.com, said  identifying funding other than loans can be a challenge for small business owners.  The SBA doesn’t give grants to start or expand most businesses. Through the SBA limited grants are available for exporting, as well as research and development.  

Small businesses, particularly, those that will aid the community, can find grants from federal, state and local agencies, as well as foundations and corporations on MWBEzone.com, powered by GrantWatch. 

Grants are available to for-profit organizations across the United States for agricultural or health-related research, creating educational opportunities in computer science for PreK-12 students, or for developing certificate and training programs in worker safety and health, among others. Local grants are generally less competitive and can be applied to a variety of initiatives including the purchase of new equipment, advertising and marketing, product launches, upgrading technology, hiring additional employees and expanding inventory.

Many city officials including leaders in Cincinnati believe that small businesses are still the engines for local growth and have incorporated creative new ways into their economic development strategies to promote more fledgling enterprises.

From Los Angeles to London, pop-up shops emerged on the small business landscape almost two decades ago to help ambitious online merchants thwart the spiraling costs of rent. Since then, entrepreneurs have taken advantage of closed urban storefronts to establish temporary sites to showcase products — often those from large and established brands – reach new customers and test a unique physical environment.

The Cincy Pop Shop program was established two years ago to connect entrepreneurs, artists and small businesses owners with local property owners to fill vacant spaces and activate neighborhoods across the city. The grants provide low-risk support for owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible space needed to create and expand their small businesses

Similar approaches have popped up elsewhere including Battle Creek, Mich., where the city’s Small Business Development Office has purchased seven shipping containers, each about 160 square feet, to be used as retail space. The BC Pop-Up Shops is a pilot program that hopes to give startup businesses a softer entry into the downtown market by reducing the cost to operate within the district. Each shop, which will be outfitted with electric heating and air conditioning and interior and exterior lighting, will lease for $1,645 for an entire seven-month period and include utilities and membership in the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce. The goal is for participating shops to eventually transition to more permanent locations in Battle Creek.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. When you subscribe to either MWBEzone.com or GrantWatch.com, you are given access to both websites.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch

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Report:Millennial Entrepreneurs Starting More Businesses at Earlier Age than Baby Boomers

Millennial entrepreneurs are starting more businesses at an earlier age than their parents, and managing bigger staffs and targeting higher profits than their baby-boom predecessors, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report.

“The trend we have noticed is that you can succeed earlier,” said Remi Frank, global head of a key client group at BNP. “Before, you needed to be 40 or 50. Then it was 30 to 40. Now it’s 20 to 30. This is a trend which is obvious everywhere. Of course, it’s linked to the new technologies, but it’s also a change in the world, which [now] accepts that you can be the CEO of a big company or own your own company at a young age.”

Arkansas Capital is encouraging the next generation of young entrepreneurs to follow millennials by creating a competition to develop their business of college-level forward thinkers. “The Governor’s Cup” challenges teams of undergraduate and graduate students to bring business ideas and talents to life. Cash prizes are awarded to first, second and third place winners in both the undergraduate and graduate tracks.

Millennial entrepreneurs, nonprofits, public and private foundations, and small businesses frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com

Sign-up here so you too can receive the GrantWatch weekly grants newsletter prepared specifically for your organization's location.

About the Author: A graduate of Suny Albany, Lianne Hikind is a staff writer for MWBEzone.com

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www.grantwatch.com/grant/176949/prizes-to-arkansas-postsecondary-students-for-participating-in-a-business-plan-competition.html

Minneapolis Cost Sharing Program Encourages Local Small Businesses to Go Green

When customers ask about the solvents he uses on their clothes, Tyler Avestini eagerly comes clean. The owner of Avestopolis Dry Cleaners says his cleansing agents not only leave clothes bright without shrinkage, but also protect the environment.

Three years ago, Avestini became the first recipient of a Minneapolis city grant that provided him with $20,000 to purchase technology that reduces the amount of pollutants emitted at his dry-cleaning business. That grant from Minneapolis’s Green Business Cost Sharing Program and a low-interest loan from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to finance the remaining $50,000 he needed to buy the new dry-cleaning equipment has helped Avestini eliminate 1,000 pounds of perchloroethylene each year. 

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said the Green Business Cost Sharing Program is also open to Minnesota auto repair shops to help them switch to cleaning and painting alternatives and repair processes that reduce hazardous waste, emissions, and energy usage. She said the grant application can be found at MWBEZone.com, a service of GrantWatch that lists business grants and government contracts, particularly for women and minorities.

In 2015, Ramin Hakimi, part-owner of Oscar Auto Body in Minneapolis, used the money from the Green Business Cost Sharing Program to install a paint booth that both improved the indoor environment and the quality of his work. He said he couldn’t believe the city offered him a grant to pay for roughly half the cost of the booth.

Since the green business matching grant program began a few years ago, more than a dozen businesses have participated. The city has offered dry-cleaning businesses up to $35,000 to purchase equipment that uses alternatives to perchloroethylene or "perc" – a commonly sued solvent and probable carcinogen.

New perc-eliminating machines typically run about $100,000, a cost that can be prohibitive for a small business, said Lisa Bender, Minneapolis City Council President. But the Minnesota incentive program offers grants in which the city pays for a third of the cleaner technology and the business chips in the other two-thirds.

Avestini said the program “has been a win-win for everybody” including his environmentally-conscious customers, who keep coming back, and Minneapolis, which became the first major city to eliminate the use of perc.

Dry-cleaning workers who routinely breathe excessive amounts of solvent vapor or spill perc on their skin are at risk of developing health problems, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Minneapolis city officials estimated that the grant program would reduce air pollution last year by nearly 120,000 pounds alone and carbon dioxide by another 16 million pounds.

MWBEzone, a service of GrantWatch.com, provides the most up-to-date list of for-profit contracts and grants for entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially minority- and women-owned enterprises. Sign-up here for a subscription to MWBEzone, which also provides access to thousands of unique and current funding opportunities on GrantWatch.com.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch.com

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Women Entrepreneurs Lifting Female Innovation to New Heights

Innovation is on the rise, thanks to female entrepreneurs in the United States. More women are starting their own businesses at a rate double their male counterparts and taking on leadership roles in both small and large companies. Not only are these ladies armed with ideas, they also have the know-how and funding to realize their dreams. Some women apply for grants for women, or grants for small businesses, crowdfund, or just know 

InHerSight is a women-owned platform that allows females to anonymously rate past or present employers on issues that matter most to them. Founded by Ursala Mead of the investment advice website “The Motley Fool,” InHerSight allows women to rate companies on 14 factors, such as paid time off, family support, management opportunities and salary. The data provided helps match women to companies that have what they're looking for. Companies that use InHerSight can reach out and recruit top female talent and gain a better understanding of how their workplace is viewed.

An anonymous review system encourages companies to make the workplace female-friendly by offering childcare, paid family leave, and mentorship as employee incentives. 

Another female startup, Dia& o, closes the gap between fashion and plus-sized women. The subscription box service, created by Nadia Boujarwah, allows consumers to try on the clothes they select at home. Customers only pay for the clothes that they choose to keep.

Boujarwah said clothes can equal confidence and her business allows women just like her to embrace their individuality and “explore all the incredible things that style can really do.” Dia&Co provides an invaluable service to plus-size women who struggle to find stylish clothes at a reasonable price.

Women entrepreneurs, nonprofits, public and private foundations, and small businesses frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. 

Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter, which lists geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: A graduate of Suny Albany, Lianne Hikind is a staff writer for GrantWatch.com.

Sources:

Women Entrepreneurs Lifting Female Innovation to New Heights

Innovation is on the rise, thanks to female entrepreneurs in the United States. More women are starting their own businesses at a rate double their male counterparts and taking on leadership roles in both small and large companies. Not only are these ladies armed with ideas, they also have the know-how and funding to realize their dreams. Some women apply for grants for women, or grants for small businesses, crowdfund, or just know 

InHerSight is a women-owned platform that allows females to anonymously rate past or present employers on issues that matter most to them. Founded by Ursala Mead of the investment advice website “The Motley Fool,” InHerSight allows women to rate companies on 14 factors, such as paid time off, family support, management opportunities and salary. The data provided helps match women to companies that have what they're looking for. Companies that use InHerSight can reach out and recruit top female talent and gain a better understanding of how their workplace is viewed.

An anonymous review system encourages companies to make the workplace female-friendly by offering childcare, paid family leave, and mentorship as employee incentives. 

Another female startup, Dia& o, closes the gap between fashion and plus-sized women. The subscription box service, created by Nadia Boujarwah, allows consumers to try on the clothes they select at home. Customers only pay for the clothes that they choose to keep.

Boujarwah said clothes can equal confidence and her business allows women just like her to embrace their individuality and “explore all the incredible things that style can really do.” Dia&Co provides an invaluable service to plus-size women who struggle to find stylish clothes at a reasonable price.

Women entrepreneurs, nonprofits, public and private foundations, and small businesses frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at MWBEzone.com. 

Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter, which lists geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: A graduate of Suny Albany, Lianne Hikind is a staff writer for GrantWatch.com.

Cheers: New York Brewery Tips Glass to State Economic Development Grants for Small Businesses

Cheers to the father and son team that took advantage of a state economic development grant to make their New York brewery more productive.

The state’s $100,000 investment in Common Roots has enabled Bert Weber and his son, Christian, to automate the canning line and add new brewing tanks and fermenting barrels for their wild-yeast beers.

During a tour of the South Glens Falls brewery, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul tipped a glass to the success of the Common Roots Brewery Company. She said the state’s economic development grants aim to give businesses throughout New York the boost they need.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said grants provide support for small businesses to add employees, expand product lines or increase productivity. Grants throughout the USA range from funding auto repair shops to mitigate pollution, to financial assistance for neighborhood beautification projects. Grants like these and many others can be found on MWBEZone.com, the small-business component of GrantWatch, which lists funding opportunities specifically small business, particularly for women and minorities.

New York is expected to provide $755 million in funding this year for hundreds of local efforts to boost the economic climate statewide, and particularly in upstate communities like South Glens Falls. The money is intended to support job training, subsidies for expanding businesses, funding for community organizations and other local economic initiatives. Since 2011, New York has handed out more than $5.4 billion in regionalized economic development awards.

The state grant will increase brewing capacity to 5,000 barrels this year at Common Roots, which got its start four years ago. Christian, who had dreamed about owning a craft brewery, left a small environmental nonprofit to combine forces with his father, a retired teacher.

Despite little experience operating a brewery outside of sharing a beer together, the father and son have watched the company grow to 20 employees. Right now, the brewery has ten 20-barrel fermenting tanks, and usually four of them are tied up with Last Light IPA, its most popular beer. The most recent grant will help nearly double that capacity by adding three 60-barrel fermenters. Additional plans include expansion of the brew pub area to set up separate retail and bar areas.

MWBEzone provides detailed listings of thousands of unique and current for-profit contracts and grants for small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially minority and women-owned enterprises.Register here to view grant listings for both MWBEzone.com and GrantWatch.com.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch.com

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Nonprofit Entrepreneurship Center Provides Tools to Bay Area Handyman to Grow Small Business

He didn’t own a car when he started his handyman and painting business five years ago. Amos Louis traveled by bicycle instead. On his way to work each day, the California resident would pass by the Richmond branch of the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center. One day, he decided to stop inside the local office.

Louis, a Haitian native who struggled financially to make a stable living, has no regrets about his decision. The center, a nonprofit that provides training to low- to moderate-income level entrepreneurs, has given Louis what he calls a “business plan.”

Now, after attending workshops and using the resources of the center, Louis is growing his business. He is working on larger projects than before and has been able to hire staff to help him.

Louis is one of many entrepreneurs who have turned to Renaissance since its founding 33 years ago. The center helps go-getters like Louis obtain small business loans, and provides meeting and office rental space. Intensive training classes and workshops are also offered at the Richmond locations and across the Bay Area in East Palo Alto and San Francisco.

Louis attended those classes to learn about finances, marketing strategies and technology like QuickBooks that he could use to build connections, collaborate on projects, and grow his business. These programs are supported by funds from government, corporate, foundation and individual sources.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch and MWBEzone said federal, state and local governments offer various grants and other types of financial assistance to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that help entrepreneurs succeed. Hikind recommends that you check out the small business grants on MWBEzone.com, the sister site for GrantWatch, displaying grants that a for-profit or individual can apply for (if they meet the eligibility criteria).  One subscription provides access to both these websites. 

In 2017, the City of Palo Alto provided a $100,000 grant to the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center to encourage residents to become small-business entrepreneurs. More than 60 families and adults, 78 percent of whom were women, were served by center programs last year.

U.S. Small Business Administration reports that a majority of companies in California are small businesses, and 49.2 percent of the state’s employees are small business employees. Across the United States, small businesses accounted for 61.8 percent of net new jobs from the first quarter of 1993 until the third quarter of 2016.

Hikind said MWBEzone.com is a helpful starting point for these new businesses and small companies in the early stages of development to begin searching for funds.

Among the current listings across the USA are requests to create and foster new companies and increase local employment (click here) or to establish entrepreneurship education and programs that directly support business planning, startup, and scale-up efforts, and offer skills for accessing capital (click here). Other opportunities simply require business to base operations locally (click here).

Louis, for his part, hopes his business can strengthen the economic fabric of Richmond. He wants to work with public-private programs like RichmondBUILD to train low-income workers and help them gain employment through his company in construction and renewable energy. He also wants to have a warehouse location and employ between 35 and 100 workers performing commercial and residential painting and handyman tasks.

Most of all, Louis wants to provide other people with the inspiration and guidance that he said helped him to develop his business, and he wants to help Richmond build its small business community full of diverse entrepreneurs and companies.

It’s hard, Louis said, for low-income people to not only build businesses, but to envision themselves as business owners. He would know. He said he could not imagine having a successful career until a business owner who gave him work years ago noticed his talent for construction and urged him to get a license. Then, the training at Renaissance helped him realize the potential and learn the business skills he enjoys today.

 

About the Author: Staff Writer for MWBEzone

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