Top Small Business Grants in Colorado

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

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Top Small Business Grants in Colorado

Colorado has about 690,000 small business owners who can apply for small business grants. Submitting an application and competing for these small business grants can help you grow your small or medium-size enterprise in the Centennial State.

Colorado’s economy has a gross domestic product of $529.1 billion as of 2023. That’s the 15th largest GDP in the United States out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Small businesses contribute to the nation’s economy.

Below we highlight some of the top small business grants in Colorado that you can explore.

Grants for Small Businesses in Colorado

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

Skill Advance Colorado Grant Program

•   Program description: The Skill Advance Colorado grant program can provide eligible businesses with Colorado First (CF) and Existing Industry (EI) job training reimbursement grants to strengthen business competitiveness and improve employment opportunities.

•   Incentive: Colorado offers job training funds of up to $200,000 per business per fiscal year that helps business owners pay competitive wages to recruit new hires.

•   General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:

◦   Be a Colorado business owner in a key industry, such as advanced manufacturing, bioscience, electronics, housing, tourism, or financial services

◦   Hire net new full-time employees who receive meaningful job training in Colorado

◦   Your grant-funded employees must have the right to work in the United States and cannot be seasonal employees or employees in retail occupations

◦   Pay your employees an average wage based on business location

◦   Colorado small business firms with fewer than 500 employees are preferred

•   How to apply: Contact your local Skill Advance Colorado community college representative if you wish to apply.

Colorado’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant

•   Program description: The Colorado STEP Grant helps Colorado small businesses pay for international business development activities, such as attending international trade shows and researching foreign markets.

•   Incentive: Eligible businesses can receive up to $10,000 per year.

•   General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:

◦   Be an export-ready small business registered with the Colorado Secretary of State in Good Standing

◦   Have headquarters in Colorado or at least 50% of your employees based in Colorado

◦   Be new to export or expand your exports to new markets abroad

◦   Your business is at least 12 months old

•   How to apply: You can apply online when the Colorado STEP Grant application opens.

Cannabis Business Grant

•   Program description: Colorado’s Cannabis Business Grant can provide funding to social equity cannabis businesses that possess or are in the process of getting a regulated business license from the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.

•   Incentive: Eligible businesses can receive up to $50,000 and use the funds toward operational needs, innovation, regulatory fees, professional services, and facility improvements.

•   General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:

◦   At least 51% of the business is owned by a person with a Social Equity License from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division

◦   You possess or plan to get a Regulated Business License from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division and the local licensing authority where your business intends to operate

◦   Be in Good Standing with the Colorado Secretary of State

•   How to apply: You can apply online when the Cannabis Business Grant application opens.

Colorado’s Community Business Preservation Program Grant

•   Program description: The Community Business Preservation Program allows eligible sponsoring entities in Colorado — such as local governments or economic development organizations — to collaborate with Colorado businesses for the opportunity to apply for competitive grant awards.

•   Incentive: Receive grants of $10,000 to $50,000 per business that can pay for infrastructure and facade improvements, among other eligible uses.

•   General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:

◦   Be a registered Colorado business owner (cannot be a franchise)

◦   Must have been fully operational on or prior to Sept. 22, 2021

◦   Two to six businesses with cultural significance in Colorado must collaborate with an eligible sponsoring entity that meets the following qualifications:

◦   Sponsoring entity is either a local government or eligible Colorado nonprofit that has been granted IRS tax-exempt status

◦   Sponsoring entity serves as the fiscal agent for the two to six businesses as part of the collaborative application

◦   Sponsoring entity has at least one part-time or full-time paid employee

◦   Eligible sponsoring entity can be a local government, economic development organization, business improvement district, or community-based nonprofit

◦   Sponsoring entity cannot be a religious organization, out-of-state organization, or political advocacy organization

•   How to apply: Interested parties can access the Community Business Preservation Program grant application through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) website.

Advanced Industries Export Grant

•   Program description: The Advanced Industries Export Grant can reimburse some of your international business development and marketing costs if you own and operate an eligible Colorado small business.

•   Incentive: Receive up to $15,000 reimbursement for eligible business expenses. The grant can reimburse a variety of expenses, such as the costs of producing international marketing materials or participating in an overseas trade mission.

•   General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant:

◦   Be an export-ready small business registered with the Colorado Secretary of State in Good Standing

◦   Have headquarters in Colorado or at least 50% of your employees based in Colorado

◦   Manufacture an advanced technology

◦   Be new to export or expand your exports to new markets abroad

◦   Employ fewer than 200 employees globally

◦   Have at least two years of sales experience in the United States

•   How to apply: You can apply online when the Advanced Industries Export Grant application opens

Who Provides Small Business Grants in Colorado?

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) offers a variety of small business grants in Colorado. Other entities that help administer Colorado small business grant programs include the Colorado Community College System, the City and County of Denver, and nonprofit organizations.

You can compare small business grants in Colorado with similar programs in other states, such as:

•   Arizona small business grants

•   California small business grants

•   Florida small business grants

•   Georgia small business grants

•   Illinois small business grants

•   Indiana small business grants

•   Maryland small business grants

•   Michigan small business grants

•   NC small business grants

•   New York small business grants

•   NJ small business grants

•   Ohio small business grants

•   Pennsylvania small business grants

•   Texas small business grants

•   Wisconsin small business grants

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: What to Know About Short-Term Business Loans

Who Is Eligible for Small Business Grants in Colorado?

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

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 who freelance, may be eligible for small business grants.

What Industries Does Colorado Support With Grants?

Colorado offers a variety of grants supporting the following advanced industries:

•   Advanced manufacturing

•   Aerospace

•   Bioscience

•   Electronics

•   Energy and natural resources (including cleantech)

•   Infrastructure engineering

•   Technology and information

Colorado Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

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

Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

The Colorado SBDC is a statewide program that can provide Colorado’s small business owners with the following services:

•   Business training workshops

•   Networking events

•   One-on-one business consulting at no cost

SBA District Office in Colorado

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that provides resources and support to small business owners. The SBA District Office in Denver serves all 64 counties in Colorado.

Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in Colorado

Here are some alternative funding sources for small businesses in the Centennial State:

Colorado State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)

Colorado’s SSBCI is a federally funded program for small business owners in the Centennial State. Federal law — the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — allocates about $104.8 million to Colorado’s State Small Business Credit Initiative program.

Here’s how Colorado plans to use the SSBCI funding:

•   Colorado Venture Capital Authority — $59.8 million. This program will provide venture capital to new and expanding businesses in Colorado.

•   Cash Collateral Support Program — $35 million. This program provides cash collateral to help small businesses qualify for small business loans.

•   CLIMBER Loan Fund — $10 million. This program uses SSBCI funds alongside private funds to support a loan to a borrower.

Colorado Microloan Lenders

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

Colorado SMB Loans from Private Lenders

Banks, credit unions, and private lenders may offer different types of small business loans to Colorado business owners.

Here are some of the funding products you may consider depending on your needs:

•   Commercial real estate loans

•   Equipment financing

•   Small business loans for startups

•   Working capital lines of credit

Recommended: Types of Small Business Loan Fees

The Takeaway

Small businesses can pursue a range of grants in Colorado, ranging from state or 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 Colorado?

You can apply for Colorado small business grants, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get approved for one. You may have to submit a grant application as a qualified small business owner to be considered for a small business grant in Colorado.

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

You may have difficulty getting a small business loan in Colorado if you have bad credit or insufficient business experience. You generally have to pay back business loans with interest.

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, SBA Express working capital loans are an option you may consider.


Photo credit: iStock/Edwin Tan

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