The Ultimate Guide to Ohio Small Business Grants
We ❤️ free money. And we bet you and your small business do, too. If you’re looking for funding (that doesn’t need to be repaid), we’ve got all the info you need about small business grants in Ohio right here.
Finding the right small business grants for your business, at the right time, can be tiring. And if you don’t know where or how to start, it can even be downright paralyzing. But don’t worry, because we’re breaking it all down in easy-to-understand terms to help you score that perfect grant. Read on to learn about:
- Nine small business grants for your Ohio small business, including city-specific ones in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, and Toledo
- Effective strategies for finding small business grants in Ohio
- How Ohio small business grants can help your business grow
Ohio small business grants
Running a small business in Ohio can be challenging, but we're here to help! Without further ado, here’s our roundup of the top Ohio small business grants to apply to. Some of them are location and industry specific, so be sure to read the eligibility requirements before putting together an application.
Cleveland Municipal Small Business Initiative
The Cleveland Municipal Small Business Initiative is offered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) and Cuyahoga County. If you already have a loan with the SBA (or are planning to secure one), the grant will cover 15% of the costs. The project you’re using the SBA loan to fund must create at least one permanent full-time job for every $35,000 funded by the city of Cleveland.
Cleveland Tech Delta Program
Calling all tech and medical companies—this one’s for you. The Cleveland Tech Delta Program will fund businesses that are relocating to or expanding within the city and creating at least five new full-time jobs. You can get $5 per square foot, up to $50,000 total, for tech buildouts, lab space, construction, and renovation.
Cleveland Job Creation Incentive Program
The Cleveland Job Creation Incentive Program is for businesses that are creating new jobs, specifically within Cleveland. You’re eligible if you’re a new business moving to or expanding in Cleveland that will hire at least five full-time W2 employees. Eligible businesses can receive up to 0.5% of new payroll for up to three years, plus $5,000 for relocation costs.
Columbus-Franklin County Small Business Recovery Fund
The Columbus-Franklin County Small Business Recovery Fund is a county-based grant for businesses located in Columbus-Franklin County impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are three grants you can apply to:
- Self-employed, sole proprietors, and single-owner LLCs with no W2 employees: $5,000
- Small businesses with at least one full-time W2 employee: $10,000
- Businesses with at least one full-time employee that lost employees due to the pandemic: Between $10,000 - $20,000
Your business has to be able to prove it lost at least 25% in sales due to the pandemic, and must have started operating on or before March 17, 2020. Businesses that are minority-, woman-, or veteran-owned are prioritized. This could be a good option if you've decided to start an LLC in Ohio.
Launched in 2022, FundNoire is a Cincinnati-based grant for Black small business owners. FundNoire plans to grant 24 Black-owned, non-tech-related small businesses grants of up to $50,000 over a two year period.
Cleveland Storefront Renovation Program
Yup, another Celevand grant. 🎉 The Cleveland Storefront Renovation Program is for retail businesses that are renovating their storefronts to be more attractive or economically viable. If you meet the grant’s criteria, you can receive up to $50,000 to give your storefront a makeover.
Toledo Emergency Microenterprise Recovery Grant
Toledo’s Emergency Microenterprise Recovery Grant aims to reimburse Toledo small businesses with less than five employees for up to $5,000 for COVID-related expenses. To be eligible, the expenses must have incurred between March 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020 and your business must have been in operation since January 1, 2020.
Great Streets Akron Grants
Akron businesses in need of a makeover, this next grant is for you. Great Streets Akron Grants will match up to $30,000 for site improvements, like signage, lighting, renovations, security cameras, and parking lots.
Shelby County Small Business Recovery Grant Program
The Shelby County Small Business Recovery Grant Program offers between $5,000 to $25,000 to small businesses to aid in pandemic-related recovery.
How to find the best small business grants in Ohio
Now, let’s get into how to optimize your small business grant search and application process. Finding grants you actually qualify for, and then applying for them, is no easy feat, but we’ll provide some manageable steps for making the process a little less daunting.
Devote time to applying for grants
We wish applying for grants could be something you do in your sleep, but it does (and should!) take time. It’s worth it to devote time to applying for grants so that you not only find great opportunities, but ensure that you apply carefully and correctly to increase your chances of scoring a grant.
A tip for managing your time better is to create a spreadsheet or document to track the grants you’re applying for, along with their requirements, application fees, and deadlines. We suggest creating a realistic and manageable schedule for grant research and applications. For example, maybe you’ll spend one hour applying for grants every day before logging off, or three hours every Monday morning—whatever works for you.
Most grants will require a grant proposal and supporting documents, so be prepared to do some writing! You can check out our article on writing effective grant proposals to help you out with your first draft. You can use this draft as a template, and then modify it based on the requirements of each grant going forward to save yourself some time.
Consider your eligibility
Before you start applying for grants, please read the eligibility requirements very, very carefully on the official grant application website. You don’t want to waste your time applying for a grant that isn’t a good fit—or that you don’t even qualify for in the first place (gasp!).
Also, pay close attention to deadlines! Nothing is worse than putting together a nice shiny grant application and then missing the application deadline by a few minutes.
It’s also important to have a plan for how you intend to use the grant money, since most funds come with specific stipulations on what you can and can’t use the funding for. Some grant applications will need you to get into the nitty-gritty of how you intend to use the funds, and how your business goals align with their mission.
Assess grant application fees
Sometimes applying for free funding comes with a price tag (ironic, right?). It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of applying for a grant when there’s an application fee—especially if that fee is a heftier one.
Let’s go back to that tracking sheet we suggested creating in the previous section. By making a note of the application fees tied to each grant, you can assess the pros and cons of applying for the grant. If the fee is super expensive and the application process requires a lot of your time on top of that (or if the competition is fierce), it might not be worth applying to in the end. Trust your gut and do what feels right for you.
Consider Ohio small business grant alternatives
Unfortunately, applying for grants doesn’t always mean you’ll automatically get them, so it’s important to keep other funding alternatives in mind. Here are some more funding options you can try:
- A small business loan through an Ohio small business bank
The benefits of small business grants in Ohio
While it may take a few hours out of your week, applying for small business grants in Ohio is definitely worth it. Afterall, it’s a chance at getting free money! Grants can help your business get off the ground, or support its efforts in leveling up its storefront, hiring employees, and scaling in general.
Generally speaking, Ohio is a great place for entrepreneurs. Ohio has one of the lowest costs of living in the US and gives you easy access to funding and resources, like the small business grants we listed here. There are unique business tax rules in Ohio to be aware of, but the state also offers tax benefits and other perks for small business owners. On top of that, Ohio saw a 32% increase in the amount of small businesses created from December 2021 to January 2022.
Getting started with Ohio small business grants
Now that you’re armed with a solid list of small business grants in Ohio and strategies for optimizing your application process, you’re ready to get out there and start applying! Remember to pay close attention to the eligibility requirements and the application deadlines. Although the process may seem daunting, it’s really just a matter of:
- Researching grants
- Making a list of grants you qualify for
- Crafting grant proposals and gathering any supporting documents, as needed
You can save this article as a reference and check out our other Ohio resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Now get out there and start applying!
The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.