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Top Small Business Grants in Florida

Small Business Grants in Florida
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated September 19, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Florida has 3 million small business owners who can apply for small business grants. Submitting an application and competing for Florida small business grants can help you grow your small or medium-sized enterprise in the Sunshine State.Florida’s economy has a gross domestic product of nearly $1.4 trillion as of 2022. That’s the fourth largest GDP in the United States out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Small businesses contribute to the nation’s economy.Small and medium-sized firms exported about $23.8 billion worth of goods from Florida in 2020, fourth behind New York ($25.7 billion), California ($58.3 billion), and Texas ($95.4 billion), according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau export data.Below we highlight some of the top small business grants in Florida that you can explore.

Grants for Small Businesses in Florida

If you’re looking for small business grants in Florida, here are some potential options to consider:

SelectFlorida Trade Grants

  • Program description: Florida offers a variety of trade grants through its official international trade and investment promotion agency, SelectFlorida Inc. (SelectFL). These small business grants can help you export your goods and services from the Sunshine State to foreign markets. 
  • Incentive: Eligible small businesses can receive top trade grants, such as:
    • Website localization grants of up to $8,000
    • Matchmaker grants that reimburse some or all of the costs of participating in SelectFL export sales missions
    • Up to $4,500 toward the development of a customized export marketing plan
    • Trade show grants of up to $5,000 to register and participate in international trade shows
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for these grants:
    • Be located in Florida and registered as an active entity with the Florida Division of Corporations
    • Be in business for a minimum of two years in the state of Florida based on Florida Division of Corporations records
    • Have a licensed commercial operation that consists of either an office, office/warehouse, or manufacturing facility
    • Coworking spaces are eligible, but home-based businesses and virtual offices do not qualify
    • Employ at least three full-time employees (excluding 1099 contractors) but no more than 500
    • Have at least $250K in annual sales in the previous calendar year
    • Be a Florida-based manufacturer whose products are produced in Florida or a local services provider whose services are provided from the Sunshine State
    • Have a viable product line or service
  • How to apply: Contact your local SelectFL trade representative (formerly known as Enterprise Florida) if you wish to apply for Florida trade grants. Qualified companies can receive a maximum of three trade grants each year between July 1 and June 30.

Orlando Business Assistance Program

  • Program description: Orlando operates a Business Assistance Program (BAP) that provides matching grants to small businesses seeking to locate, expand, or redevelop in this Central Florida city.
  • Incentive: Eligible businesses can receive up to $20,000 in matching funds to help pay for commercial development fees in Orlando, including building permit fees. 
  • General requirements: Be an Orlando-based small business with an Orlando Business Tax Receipt or obtain one upon relocating your business there.
  • How to apply: Request a meeting with the BAP coordinator to determine your eligibility. More information is available on the City of Orlando’s website.

Florida High Tech Corridor Matching Grants Research Program (MGRP)

  • Program description: The Florida High Tech Corridor Matching Grants Research Program (MGRP) provides funding to research teams spearheaded by University of Central Florida and University of South Florida faculty in collaboration with business partners.
  • Incentive: Eligible research teams can receive up to $150K in matching cash and in-kind investments.
  • General requirements: Partner with UCF or USF and secure federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards to be eligible for MGRP funding.
  • How to apply: Small businesses can contact USF’s or UCF’s MGRP staff to discuss potential collaboration. More information is available on the respective websites of University of South Florida and University of Central Florida.

Panama City’s Commercial Improvement Grant Program

  • Program description: The Panama City Commercial Improvement Grant Program can provide matching grants to business owners who upgrade their establishments in a Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) District.
  • Incentive: Applicants can be reimbursed up to $50,000 for making eligible improvements to their commercial properties.
  • General requirements: Own commercial property in a Panama City CRA District and make eligible improvements to the building or surrounding land.
  • How to apply: Download, complete, and submit an application to the Panama City CRA via email or in person at City Hall. More information is available on the Panama City website.

Miami-Dade County’s Mom and Pop Small Business Grant

  • Program description: The Miami-Dade County Mom and Pop Small Business Grant Program can provide business owners with financial aid to buy equipment, supplies, inventory, and commercial liability insurance, among other products and services.
  • Incentive: Eligible small business owners may receive up to $5,000 that could be used for a variety of purposes. Proof of payment and a written statement detailing how you’ve spent the grant may be required.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this annual grant program: 
    • Operate a small business in one of the 13 Miami-Dade County Commission Districts
    • Have a physical address for your business (home-based businesses can apply)
    • Must not be part of a national chain
  • How to apply: Annual applications are no longer being accepted for 2023, but you can dial Miami-Dade County’s 3-1-1 Contact Center for information and updates.

Who Provides Small Business Grants in Florida?

Some of the organizations or entities that provide small business grants in Florida typically include local municipalities, county governments, nonprofits, and state-based organizations.You can compare small business grants in Florida with similar programs in other states, such as:

Do You Have to Pay Back a Small Business Grant?

A small business grant typically comes with terms and conditions, and you may be responsible for paying back the grant if you violate those terms. In general, small and midsized business owners are not required to pay back an SMB grant absent any violations.You typically have to sign a funding agreement to accept a small business grant. As mentioned above, the grant may come with certain conditions. Using the grant for an illegitimate purpose may violate the agreement and require business owners to pay back the grant.Small business grants may require you to spend the money by a certain date. You may also have to provide proof of payment and a written statement detailing how you’ve spent the grant.Recommended: How To Get a Small Business Grant

Who Is Eligible for Small Business Grants in Florida?

Local business owners or operators of an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for small business grants in Florida.The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy generally defines a small business as an independent business having fewer than 500 employees. A small business, including individuals with freelancing business ideas, may be eligible for small business grants.

What Industries Does Florida Support With Grants?

Florida may offer grants to businesses in the following industries:
  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Real estate
  • Restaurants and other eating places
  • Retail trade (store and nonstore retailers)
  • Scientific research and development services

Florida Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

Here are some resources for small and medium-sized businesses looking for funding in the Sunshine State:

Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Florida SBDC is a statewide program that can provide Florida’s small business owners with the following services:
  • Live and on-demand training in operations and management
  • Access to market research and data
  • Business consulting advice at no cost

SBA District Offices in Florida

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that provides resources and support to small business owners. The SBA has two district offices in Florida:
  • SBA North Florida District Office. This SBA district serves 43 counties in northern Florida. Depending on where you’re based, you can schedule an appointment at the main office in Jacksonville or the virtual office in Orlando.
  • SBA South Florida District Office. This SBA district serves 24 counties in southern Florida. Depending on where you’re based, you can schedule an appointment at the main office in Miami, satellite office in Tampa, or the virtual office in Fort Pierce.

Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in Florida

Here are some alternative funding sources for small businesses in Florida:

Florida State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)

Florida’s SSBCI is a federally funded program for small business owners in the Sunshine State. Federal law — the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — allocates more than $488 million to Florida’s State Small Business Credit Initiative program.Here’s how Florida plans to use the SSBCI funding:
  • Collateral Support Program — $250 million. This program provides cash collateral to help small businesses qualify for small business loans.
  • Venture Capital Program — $100 million. This program implements a targeted investment strategy providing venture capital to underserved startups and investors.
  • Loan Participation Program — $50 million. This program uses SSBCI funds alongside private funds to support a loan to a borrower.
  • Loan Guarantee Program — $50 million. This program provides lenders with short-term, partial guarantees to support loans and lines of credit for eligible small businesses.
  • Capital Access Program — $38.5 million. This program uses SSBCI matching funds to support portfolio insurance on small business loans.

Florida Microloan Lenders

Community-based nonprofits may offer microloans of up to $50,000 to small business owners in Florida, including microloans for women-owned small businesses. In general, microloans can range from $500 to $50K and may be available to startups.

Florida SMB Loans from Private Lenders

Banks, credit unions, and private lenders may offer different types of small business loans to Florida business owners.Here are some of the funding products you may consider depending on your needs:

Find Small Business Financing With Lantern

If you need funding to grow your business, Lantern by SoFi can help. Just fill out a simple form and find the right financing for your business.Lantern can help you find fast funding for your small or medium-sized enterprise.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a small business grant in Florida?
How hard is it to get a business loan in Florida?
What is the easiest SBA loan to get approved for?
Photo credit: iStock/Delmaine Donson
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About the Author

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman

Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman writes about personal loans, auto loans, student loans, and other personal finance topics for Lantern. He’s the recipient of more than 10 journalism awards and served as a New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member. An alumnus of the Philadelphia-based Temple University, Abdur-Rahman is a strong advocate of the First Amendment and freedom of speech.
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