Top Small Business Grants in Arizona

By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman · May 22, 2024 · 9 minute read

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Top Small Business Grants in Arizona

Arizona has more than 650,000 small businesses which together employ 1.1 million workers — more than 40% of the state’s private workforce. To help entrepreneurs thrive in the Grand Canyon State, Arizona offers a number of small business grants for new and existing small businesses.

Unlike a small business loan, a small business grant typically doesn’t have to be repaid, making it the equivalent to free money. While competition for Arizona grants can be stiff, here are five small business grants in Arizona you may want to check out.

Grants for Small Businesses in Arizona

If you’re looking for a small business grant to grow or start your business in Arizona, here are some options to explore.

Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Facilities Grant

•   Program description: This grant can help you cover some of the costs of using the Arizona State University Core Research Facilities.

•   Incentive: Eligible companies can receive matching grants of up to $75,000, providing discounted access to ASU’s Core Research Facilities.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be a small business/startup in an industry that is aligned with the semiconductor and hard materials space

◦   Be based in Arizona or relocating to the Grand Canyon State

◦   Be in good standing with the Arizona Corporation Commission and other regulatory bodies

◦   Be moving toward the commercialization of innovative technology or a scientific solution to a marketplace issue

◦   Be an eligible business structure, such as a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership (sole proprietorships are not eligible)

•   How to apply: Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis through the ACA website and reviewed quarterly.

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Arizona State Trade Expansion Program (AZSTEP)

•   Program description: The Arizona Commerce Authority, in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA), offers STEP grants that can help you export your goods and services from the Grand Canyon State to foreign markets.

•   Incentive: Receive AZSTEP assistance to participate in international trade shows and expos. AZSTEP can help you export your goods and services to Mexico and beyond.

•   General requirements: Arizona small businesses seeking to enter export markets for the first time or expand into new markets may be eligible for AZSTEP assistance.

•   How to apply: Contact the Arizona Commerce Authority if you’re interested in participating in AZSTEP.

City of Mesa Business Export Assistance Program (BEAP)

•   Program description: This program provides eligible small and medium-sized businesses in Mesa with information, training, and marketing support to help them export products/services to international markets, as well as expand operations locally.

•   Incentive: Qualified Mesa companies can receive up to 50% reimbursement for eligible expenses associated with trade show participation and export training seminars.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be a company headquartered in Mesa, Arizona

◦   Have a current Mesa General Business License (unless exempted)

◦   Not exceed $25 million in annual sales

◦   Complete parts 1 and 2 of the application and related affidavit of eligibility within the time specified.

•   How to apply: Contact the City of Mesa’s Office of Economic Development if you wish to apply.

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Phoenix Flash Grants Program

•   Program description: The Phoenix Flash Grants Program supports arts and cultural organizations, groups, and individual artists for specific projects within underinvested areas of Phoenix.​

•   Incentive: Receive merit-based awards between $1,000 and $3,500 supporting an art-based activity, such as festivals, exhibitions, performances, or educational art programs.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be based in the City of Phoenix or Maricopa County

◦   Produce an in-person cultural festival in Phoenix serving mainly Phoenix residents​

◦   Have a connection or relationship to the area where the project is proposed to take place

◦   Be one of the following applicant types:

▪   501(c)3 organization

▪   Arts and culture LLC with a prior income below $250K

▪   Arts collective

▪   Individual artist or culture worker

▪   K–12 school

▪   Youth group

•   How to apply: You can submit your Phoenix Flash Grants application through the city’s online portal.

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Town of Pinetop-Lakeside Façade Grant Program

•   Program description: This matching grants program provides funding to commercial property owners who complete façade improvements on buildings in the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside.

•   Incentive: Be reimbursed for 50% of your costs (up to $2,500) for implementing eligible façade improvements, such as landscaping or visual enhancements to a commercial property.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be a local service business or commercial property owner in the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside

◦   Propose a façade improvement project that complies with the town’s building codes, sign regulations, zoning ordinances, and any other regulations

◦   Meet with a member of the town’s Community Development Department to discuss the project before formally applying for the grant

•   How to apply: You can request the Façade Grant Program application at Town Hall or download a copy from the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside’s website. Complete and submit your applications to the Community Development Department.

Do You Have to Pay Back a Small Business Grant?

Typically, no. However, small business grants usually come with terms and conditions, and you may be responsible for paying back the grant if you violate those terms. You typically have to sign a funding agreement to accept a small business grant. Using the grant for an illegitimate purpose may violate the agreement and require business owners to pay back the grant.

In addition, 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.

Who Is Eligible for Small Business Grants in Arizona?

Local business owners or operators of an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees may be eligible for small business grants in Arizona.

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 with just a few employees, even self-employed individuals, may be eligible for small business grants.

What Industries Does Arizona Support With Grants?

Arizona offers grants supporting a wide variety of industries, including:

•   Advanced manufacturing

•   Aerospace

•   Information technology

•   Medical technology

•   Performing arts

•   Renewable energy

•   Restaurants

•   Retail

•   Semiconductor

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Arizona Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

Here’s a look at some resources for small and medium-sized businesses looking for funding in the Grand Canyon State.

Arizona Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Arizona SBDC is a statewide program that can provide Arizona’s small business owners with the following services at no cost:

•   Confidential business counseling

•   Market research

•   Workshops and training courses

SBA District Office in Arizona

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that provides resources and support to small business owners. The SBA’s Arizona District Office serves the entire Grand Canyon State with a main office in Phoenix plus satellite offices in Show Low and Tucson.

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Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in Arizona

If you don’t qualify for small business grants in Arizona, you’re not necessarily out of funding options. Here are some other ways you may be able to get the capital you need to launch or grow your business in Arizona.

Arizona Microloan Lenders

Community-based nonprofits may offer microloans of anywhere from $500 to $50,000 to underserved small business owners in Arizona, such as women and minorities. Interest rates tend to be low (or zero in some cases), and the qualification criteria are often less stringent compared with other business loans.

Microloans can provide an infusion of cash to get a startup off the ground or grow an existing business. However, you may need to provide a microlender with a personal guarantee and collateral in order to secure funding.

SBA loans for Arizona Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several loan programs to help small businesses access financing. These loans are partially guaranteed by the SBA, which reduces the risk for lenders and makes it easier for small businesses to qualify. The most popular SBA loan program is the 7(a) loan program, which can be used for a variety of purposes, including working capital, equipment purchases, and refinancing existing debt.

SBA loans typically have longer repayment terms and lower interest rates than conventional loans, making them an attractive option for many small businesses.

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Arizona SMB Term Loans from Private Lenders

Term loans are a common type of small business loan offered by private lenders, such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Newer businesses typically have a better chance of approval through online lenders because they typically offer more flexible qualification requirements.

Term loans provide a lump sum of money that is repaid over a fixed term, typically with a fixed interest rate. The funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including expansion, equipment purchases, and working capital. Your business’s history, annual revenue, and creditworthiness (including your personal credit) typically determine which loan terms you’ll have access to and how much you can borrow.

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Business Lines of Credit

A business line of credit is a flexible type of financing that allows small businesses to borrow money up to a predetermined limit. Unlike a traditional term loan, where you receive a lump sum of money upfront, a business line of credit allows you to borrow only the amount you need, when you need it. This can be useful for managing cash flow, covering unexpected expenses, or taking advantage of opportunities for growth. Business lines of credit typically have variable interest rates and can be either secured or unsecured, depending on the lender and the borrower’s creditworthiness.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is a type of loan specifically designed to help small businesses purchase equipment needed for their operations. The equipment itself serves as collateral for the loan, making it easier for businesses to qualify. The terms of equipment financing loans can vary depending on the lender and the type of equipment being financed, but they typically have fixed interest rates and repayment terms ranging from three to ten years.

The Takeaway

There are many grants available for small businesses in Arizona, ranging from state and local governments to private sources.

If you’re seeking financing for your business, SoFi can help. On SoFi’s marketplace, you can shop top providers today to access the capital you need. Find a personalized business financing option today in minutes.


With SoFi’s marketplace, it’s fast and easy to search for your small business financing options.

FAQ

How do you get a small business grant in Arizona?

To find a small business grant in Arizona, you might start by contacting the state’s Economic Development Administration and your local Small Business Development Center. You typically need to submit a grant application as a qualified small business owner to be considered for a small business grant in Arizona.

How hard is it to get a business loan in Arizona?

You typically need to have been in business for at least two years and have strong financials to qualify for a business loan from a bank. Online alternative lenders tend to have more flexible qualification criteria for small business loans but generally charge higher interest rates.

What is the easiest SBA loan to get approved for?

There’s no guarantee you’ll get approved for any SBA loan, but SBA microloans may be one of the easier ones to get if you’re a new business owner. Startups may be eligible for SBA microloans of up to $50,000. If you’re looking for a streamlined application process, you may want to look into an SBA Express loan.


Photo credit: iStock/JLco – Julia Amaral

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