Top Small Business Grants in Maryland

By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman · May 22, 2024 · 10 minute read

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Top Small Business Grants in Maryland

There are 604,176 small businesses in Maryland, accounting for 99.5% of all businesses in the state. Collectively, Maryland’s small business owners employ over 1.2 million individuals, which represents nearly half of the state’s private workforce.

A large portion of Maryland’s small businesses are concentrated in the professional, science, and technology industries, thanks to the proximity to government agencies that offer grants and contract money for scientific research and studies. However, there are Maryland grants available for small and midsize businesses in a wide range of industries.

Here’s a look at five grants you may want to check out, plus other ways to find business funding.

Grants for Small Businesses in Maryland

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

Partnership for Workforce Quality (PWQ) Grants

•   Program description: The PWQ program provides eligible small and midsized manufacturing and technology companies with matching grants to train employees in new technologies and production processes.

•   Incentive: Receive matching grants of between $10,000 and $200,000 to reimburse up to 50% of the costs of qualified projects.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be a Maryland-based employer

◦   Have at least 10 full-time employees

◦   Be current on your state tax obligations and not in default with any Maryland Department of Commerce program

◦   Priority will be given to manufacturing and technology companies

•   How to apply: Contact your Maryland Department of Commerce regional representative to apply for PWQ funding.

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Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program

•   Program description: The Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program provides Maryland-based private companies with grants for infrastructure projects intended to support innovation in an eligible technology sector.

•   Incentive: Receive up to $2 million in a fiscal year and use the funds for an eligible infrastructure project in select industries, including advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and life sciences.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be a Maryland-based company in good standing with the state

◦   Propose an infrastructure project that advances innovation and growth in an eligible technology sector

◦   For a grant award up to $1 million, you provide matching funds that are at least 200% of the grant amount

◦   For a grant award exceeding $1 million and up to $2 million, you must provide matching funds that are at least 400% of the grant amount

•   How to apply: You can submit your application on the Build Our Future Grant Pilot Program’s website. Funding for 2024 is closed. Applications for 2025 funding will be accepted starting in the Fall of 2024.

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ExportMD Program

•   Program description: The ExportMD Program can reimburse some of your international marketing expenses if you own and operate an eligible Maryland small or midsize business.

•   Incentive: Receive up to $5,000 in reimbursement for eligible business expenses,, including the cost of travel related to international marketing, website development, and registration costs for virtual trade shows.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be an established Maryland business in operation for at least 12 months

◦   Be in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation

◦   Meet the federal definition of small business for your industry

◦   Be planning an international business initiative to commence and conclude within six months of the application deadline

◦   Recipients of the ExportMD grant in the last yea​r are not eligible

•   How to apply: Contact the Maryland Department of Commerce if you’re interested in the ExportMD Program.

Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) Grants

•   Program description: MARBIDCO offers several grant incentive programs for farm, forestry, and seafood businesses, including the Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Matching Grant Program. The RFSI grant supports expanding capacity for the growing, processing, manufacturing, and distribution of locally and regionally produced food products,

•   Incentive: Eligible farmers can receive from $10,000 to $100,000 to purchase equipment or $100,000 to $3 million to fund capital investments.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be an agricultural marketing group or legally organized farm cooperative including at least four Certified Local Farm and Certified Chesapeake Invasive Species Providers

◦   Be a wholesale distributor that is selling to at least one institution and aggregating from at least four Certified Local Farm and Certified Chesapeake Invasive Species Providers

◦   Propose a project that meets all RFSI application requirements

•   How to apply: Contact MARBIDCO to find out about and apply for any available grant programs.

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Maryland Manufacturing 4.0 Grant Program

•   Program description: ​The Maryland Manufacturing 4.0 grant program provides matching funds to small and midsized Maryland manufacturers to adopt new technologies and digital business practices.

•   Incentive: Eligible manufacturers can receive $25,000 to $500,000 in matching grants for the purpose of implementing a proposed modernization project.

•   General requirements:

◦   Be an existing business in good standing with the state of Maryland

◦   Company has operated for at least three years

◦   Be a manufacturing sector employer under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)

◦   Have between three and 250 total full-time employees

◦   Be in good standing with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Maryland Occupational Safety and Health regulations

◦   Demonstrate an ability to implement a proposed modernization project

◦   Demonstrate your ability to meet the matching funds requirement

•   How to apply: Download the Maryland Manufacturing 4.0 Grant application on the state Department of Commerce website and apply during an open grant period.

Who Provides Small Business Grants in Maryland?

State and local government agencies, including the Maryland Department of Commerce, offer a variety of small business grants in the Old Line State.

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Do You Have to Pay Back a Small Business Grant?

Generally, no. Unlike small business loans, you usually do not need to repay the funds you receive through a small business grant. That said, small business grants typically 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 Maryland?

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

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 Maryland Support With Grants?

Maryland offers grants supporting a variety of business sectors, including:

•   Advanced manufacturing

•   Aerospace

•   Agriculture

•   Artificial intelligence

•   Biotechnology

•   Blue technology

•   Cybersecurity

•   Defense

•   Energy and sustainability

•   Life sciences

•   Manufacturing

•   Quantum

•   Sensors and robotics

Maryland Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

Here are some resources for small and medium-sized businesses looking for funding in the Old Line State.

Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

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

•   Access to customized research reports

•   Individualized business consulting

•   Online and in-person training events for Maryland small business owners

SBA District Office in Maryland

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 Maryland:

•   SBA Baltimore District Office. This SBA district serves Baltimore City and all Maryland Counties, except for Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

•   SBA Washington Metropolitan Area District Office. This SBA district serves the District of Columbia, two counties in Maryland (Montgomery and Prince George’s), and three counties in Northern Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun, plus the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church).

Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in Maryland

If you don’t qualify for small business grants in Maryland, 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 Maryland.

Maryland Microloan Lenders

Community-based nonprofits may offer microloans of anywhere from $500 to $50,000 to underserved small business owners in Maryland, 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.

Maryland SBA Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a range of loan programs to help small businesses secure funding. These loans are partially guaranteed by the SBA, which reduces risk for lenders and increases accessibility for businesses. The 7(a) loan program is one of the most popular, providing funds for working capital, equipment purchases, and debt refinancing. SBA loans typically offer longer repayment terms and lower interest rates compared to conventional business loans.

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Maryland SMB Term Loans from Private Lenders

Many banks, credit unions, and online lenders in Maryland offer term loans to small businesses. Online alternative lenders often have more flexible eligibility criteria than traditional banks, making them a good option for businesses that are just starting out. However, interest rates tend to be higher.

With term loans, you receive a lump sum of money up front then repay it over a set period of time, often with a fixed interest rate. You can use the funds for various purposes, including business expansion, buying equipment, and working capital.

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Business Lines of Credit

A business line of credit provides businesses with flexible access to funds up to a predetermined limit. Unlike traditional loans, a line of credit allows businesses to borrow only what they need, when they need it. This flexibility can be helpful for managing cash flow, covering unexpected expenses, and taking advantage of growth opportunities.

Business lines of credit typically have variable interest rates and can be secured or unsecured, depending on the lender and the borrower’s creditworthiness.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is specifically designed to help businesses acquire necessary equipment. The equipment itself serves as collateral for the loan, making approval easier. This type of financing can be used to purchase machinery, vehicles, technology, and other essential equipment. Terms for equipment financing vary based on the lender and the type of equipment, but generally feature fixed interest rates and repayment terms from three to ten years.

The Takeaway

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a small business grant in Maryland?

To find a small business grant in Maryland, 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 Maryland.

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

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/RgStudio

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