App version: 0.1.0

Top Small Business Grants in PA

PA Small Business Grants
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Sulaiman Abdur-RahmanUpdated November 16, 2023
Share this article:
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.
Pennsylvania has about 1.1 million small business owners statewide who can apply for small business grants. Submitting an application and competing for Pennsylvania small business grants can help you grow your small or medium-sized enterprise in the Keystone State.Pennsylvania’s economy has a gross domestic product of $923.1 billion as of 2022. That’s the sixth 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 $12.6 billion worth of goods from Pennsylvania in 2021, which ranks ninth in the nation out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau export data.Below we highlight some of the top small business grants in Pennsylvania that you can explore.

Grants for Small Businesses in PA

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

Pennsylvania’s Global Access Program (GAP) Grant

  • Program description: GAP is Pennsylvania’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant reimbursement program that can help you export your goods and services from the Keystone State to foreign markets.
  • Incentive: Receive up to $10K in reimbursements for eligible business expenses, including international marketing and trade show participation costs.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be a Pennsylvania small or midsized business licensed to manufacture, assemble, and distribute a product or provide an exportable service
    • Be in good standing with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and IRS
    • Identify one or more specific, achievable, export initiatives requiring financial support
    • Be organized or incorporated in the United States
    • Be an export-ready Pennsylvania company
    • Be an active company with at least one year of operational experience
  • How to apply: Submit your Pennsylvania GAP application to a local Regional Export Network (REN) office prior to the qualifying activity for which funding is sought. Local REN contacts may forward your application to the GAP administrator for final review.

Small Business Advantage Grant Program

  • Program description: Pennsylvania’s Small Business Advantage Grant can defray some of the costs of making energy efficiency improvements or pollution prevention changes to your Pennsylvania small business operations.
  • Incentive: Get reimbursed up to $5K for a single eligible project and up to $8K for implementing an eligible green project in a designated Environmental Justice Area with significant environmental savings.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be a Pennsylvania small business with 100 or fewer full-time employees 
    • Propose an energy efficiency or pollution-prevention project that saves your small business an annual minimum of $500 and at least 20% in energy use or pollution-related expenses
    • Be registered to do business in Pennsylvania
    • Have or obtain a Vendor Identification Number (also called an SAP Vendor Number) from the Pennsylvania Office of Budget
  • How to apply: You can complete the Small Business Advantage Grant application online via the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) website.

Philadelphia’s Fair Chance Hiring Initiative (FCHI)

  • Program description: The FCHI program provides financial incentives to Philadelphia employers who hire local residents returning from incarceration within the last seven years.
  • Incentive: Eligible employers who hire qualifying employees can receive a $6 per hour wage reimbursement for compensable hours worked up to 960 hours within 180 days of employment and a one-time $500 employment retention grant for each FCHI employee who completes the new hire period.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Be a Philadelphia-based employer
    • Generate less than $5 million in annual revenue
    • Hire qualifying Philadelphians returning from incarceration within the last seven years
    • Compensate qualifying employees at a minimum of $12.20 per hour
    • Provide qualifying employees a minimum of 21 work hours per week
    • Retain qualifying employees for a minimum of 90 calendar days
    • Be registered and licensed with the City of Philadelphia and current on all applicable taxes
  • How to apply: Contact the FCHI program to see whether you qualify for the FCHI grant and wage reimbursement program.

Philadelphia Business Security Camera Program

  • Program description: This program can help Philadelphia business owners buy and install exterior cameras on commercial properties.
  • Incentive: Receive up to $3,000 in reimbursement for installing exterior security cameras to a single commercial property in Philadelphia.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Own or lease commercially occupied property in Philadelphia
    • Be registered and licensed with the City of Philadelphia as a local business
    • Plan a project with cost estimates of installing exterior cameras onto your commercial property
    • Be current on all applicable taxes, water revenue billings, licenses, and any other obligations
  • How to apply: You can access and submit the Business Security Camera Program application online.

Philadelphia’s Storefront Improvement Program (SIP) Grant

  • Program description: This grant reimburses eligible property owners for some of the costs of improving a commercial building exterior or façade in the City of Brotherly Love.
  • Incentive: Receive up to $10K in reimbursements for making façade improvements to an eligible single commercial property in Philadelphia or up to $15K for improving an eligible corner property or large commercial building with multiple addresses.
  • General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:
    • Own or lease commercially occupied property on an eligible block within a commercial corridor in the City of Philadelphia
    • Plan an eligible storefront improvement project  
    • Be current on all applicable taxes, water revenue billings, licenses, and any other obligations
    • Have any necessary licenses and registration credentials with the City of Philadelphia as a commercial property owner or tenant
  • How to apply: You can access and submit the SIP grant application online. Some projects are not eligible for this grant, including projects that would improve buildings occupied by or owned by religious institutions, schools, colleges, government offices, and elected officials.

Who Provides Small Business Grants in PA?

Local and state government agencies, including the Pennsylvania DCED’s Office of International Business Development and Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce, offer a variety of small business grants in Pennsylvania.You can compare small business grants in Pennsylvania 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 PA?

Local business owners or operators of an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for small business grants in Pennsylvania.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 PA Support With Grants?

Pennsylvania offers a variety of grants supporting the following industries:
  • Food services and drinking places
  • Food and beverage stores
  • Hair, nail, and skin care services
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail trade (store and nonstore retailers)

PA Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

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

Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)

Pennsylvania SBDC facilities across the commonwealth can provide Pennsylvania small business owners with the following services:
  • Business training seminars, webinars, and workshops
  • Access to market research tools and databases
  • Confidential business consulting at no cost

SBA District Offices in PA

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 Pennsylvania:
  • SBA Philadelphia District Office. This SBA district serves 40 counties in eastern Pennsylvania. Depending on where you’re based, you can contact the main office in King of Prussia, satellite office In Harrisburg, or the virtual office in Wilkes-Barre.
  • SBA Pittsburgh District Office. This SBA district serves 27 counties in western Pennsylvania. It’s based in Pittsburgh.

Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in PA

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

Pennsylvania State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)

Pennsylvania’s SSBCI is a federally funded program for small business owners in the Keystone State. Federal law — the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — allocates more than $267.8 million to Pennsylvania’s State Small Business Credit Initiative program.Here’s how Pennsylvania plans to use the SSBCI funding:
  • PA-SSBCI Revolving Loan Fund Program — $125.8 million. This program uses SSBCI funds alongside private funds to support small business loans to eligible borrowers, including socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
  • PA-SSBCI Direct Venture Investment — $125 million. This equity capital program will help eligible startups access venture capital.
  • PA-SSBCI Diverse Venture Loan Program — $17 million. This program provides SSBCI funds to venture capital firms that make investments in Pennsylvania-based small businesses led by diverse individuals.

PA Microloan Lenders

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

Pennsylvania SMB Loans from Private Lenders

Banks, credit unions, and private lenders may offer different types of small business loans to Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania?
How hard is it to get a business loan in Pennsylvania?
What is the easiest SBA loan to get approved for?
Photo credit: iStock/dragana991

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.
Share this article: