The Myth of Small Business Grants
Nearly every day a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office or the Small Business Administration (SBA) gets a call from someone who has responded to an ad that implies there is "free money" available to start a business. It just isn't true.
Grants made available through private foundations and government entities for 'special purposes'. Typically, these are tied to some community service or not-for-profit mission. Other examples of special purpose grants include:
The Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provides limited grants to enable disabled people to pursue self-employment.
The Small Business Innovative Research Grant (SBIR) is designed to fund research & development efforts that support specific initiatives of government agencies such as NASA and the Department of Defense. The R & D is typically related to the development of innovative technology or processes.
These programs represent the exception rather than the rule. The information provided by those companies telling you there is 'Free Money' is often misleading and rarely specific about where you can find this money. Along with the action by law-enforcement officials in several states, the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on grant scams. If you are dissatisfied with a company that sold you books or a seminar, contact your local Better Business Bureau and your state's Attorney General's office.
If you want to do some checking on your own, visit the following Web sites:
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
Small Business Administration
US Government Official Web Portal