Top Small Business Grants in Ohio

By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman · May 30, 2024 · 9 minute read

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Top Small Business Grants in Ohio

Ohio has almost 1 million small business owners statewide who can apply for small business grants. Submitting an application and competing for Ohio small business grants can help you grow your small or medium-size enterprise in the Buckeye State.

Ohio’s statewide economy has a gross domestic product of $822.7 billion as of 2022. That’s the seventh largest GDP in the United States out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Small and medium-sized firms exported about $11 billion worth of goods from Ohio, which ranks 13th in the nation out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau export data.

Learn about some of the top small business grants in Ohio that you can explore.

Grants for Small Businesses in Ohio

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

International Market Access Grant for Exporters (IMAGE)

•  Program description: The IMAGE program can help you export your goods or services from the Buckeye State to foreign markets.

•  Incentive: Eligible businesses can receive up to $10,000 in reimbursements for eligible business expenses, including translations of company marketing materials and international trade show participation costs.

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

◦  Be an Ohio small business owner

◦  Manufacture, assemble, and distribute a product or provide an exportable service

◦  Have a strategic plan for exporting

◦  Have a product or service consisting of at least 51% U.S. content

◦  Have at least 12 months of operational experience

◦  Be in good standing with all Ohio state regulatory agencies

◦  Not be debarred from doing business with the federal government

◦  Attest that you will not enter knowingly into any transactions with a person in the Excluded Parties List System

•  How to apply: You can apply for IMAGE and export training grants on Ohio’s Department of Development application portal.

Safety Intervention Grant (SIG) Program

•  Program description: The SIG Program provides matching grants to eligible employers who buy workplace equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation.

•  Incentive: Receive up to $40K in matching funds comprising $3 for every $1 you contribute toward making your workplace safer.

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

◦  Be a private, state-fund employer or a public employer taxing district covered by Ohio’s State Insurance Fund

◦  Maintain active coverage

◦  Complete sufficient payroll or true-up reporting as required

◦  Be current on all monies owed to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC)

◦  Demonstrate a need for safety intervention

◦  Provide one-year baseline data

•  How to apply: You can apply for SIG funding through the BWC online grant management portal. Information is posted about when funds become available.

Trench Safety Grant (TSG) Program

•  Program description: The TSG program provides matching grants to eligible employers who buy qualified items that substantially reduce or eliminate injuries associated with trenching operations.

•  Incentive: Receive up to $12K in matching funds comprising $4 for every $1 you contribute toward making your trenching operations safer.

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

◦  Employ workers who perform excavations or who work in trenches

◦  Be a private, state-fund employer or a public employer taxing district covered by Ohio’s State Insurance Fund

◦  Have active Ohio workers’ compensation coverage and maintain continuous active coverage while participating in the program

◦  Be current on all monies owed to BWC

◦  Have at least 12 months of operational experience

◦  Have reported payroll for at least one full policy year

◦  Demonstrate a need for trench safety intervention

•  How to apply: Access the TSG funding application online and submit your completed application to BWC via email. Information is updated on the site about when funds become available.

Drug-Free Safety Program (DFSP) Grants

•  Program description: DFSP grants can offset some of the costs of fostering a drug-free workplace in compliance with Ohio’s Drug-Free Safety Program.

•  Incentive: Be reimbursed for some of the costs involved in developing a written DFSP policy in conjunction with legal review, educating employees on the misuse of alcohol and other drugs, and offering relevant supervisor training.

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

◦  Be a private, state-fund employer or a public employer taxing district covered by Ohio’s State Insurance Fund

◦  Have active Ohio workers’ compensation coverage and maintain continuous active coverage while participating in the program

◦  Be current on all monies owed to BWC

◦  Have reported payroll for at least one full policy year

◦  Participate in BWC’s DFSP

•  How to apply: Access the DFSP grant application online and mail your completed application to the BWC. Note deadlines and updated protocols on the site.

Toledo Facade Improvement Grant Program

•  Program description: The City of Toledo typically offers Facade Improvement Grant funding to eligible property owners who enhance the facade of a building used for commercial, industrial, or mixed-use purposes.

•  Incentive: Be reimbursed between $10,000 to $40,000 for implementing a comprehensive facade improvement project that enhances an eligible building in the City of Toledo.

•  General requirements: Here are some of the general requirements for this grant if you’re a small business owner:

◦  Own eligible property in the City of Toledo used for commercial, industrial, or mixed-use purposes

◦  Be in good standing with local, state, and federal government agencies

◦  Propose a comprehensive facade improvement project to an eligible building

◦  Comply with Toledo’s zoning and building codes

◦  The following businesses are not eligible for this grant:

■  Liquor stores

■  Tobacco stores

■  Pawn shops

■  Payday loan businesses

■  Weapons dealers

■  Adult entertainment firms

■  Franchise or chain businesses

•  How to apply: Anyone interested in Toledo’s Facade Improvement Grant Program can apply, noting application deadlines on the website.

Who Provides Small Business Grants in Ohio?

Local and state government agencies, including the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, offer a variety of small business grants in Ohio.

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

•  Illinois small business grants

•  Indiana small business grants

•  Maryland 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.

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Who Is Eligible for Small Business Grants in Ohio?

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

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 Ohio Support With Grants?

Ohio offers a variety of grants supporting the following industries:

•  Advanced manufacturing

•  Aerospace

•  Construction

•  Dairy product manufacturing

•  Landscaping services

•  Nursing and residential care facilities

•  Packaging and labeling services

•  Retail trade (store and nonstore retailers)

Ohio Resources for SMB Owners Looking for Funding

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

Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

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

•  Cash flow analysis

•  Export assistance

•  Market feasibility and research

•  One-on-one business counseling at no cost

•  Workshops and training programs

SBA District Offices in Ohio

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 Ohio:

•  SBA Cleveland District Office. This SBA district serves 28 urban and rural counties in northern Ohio. It’s based in Cleveland.

•  SBA Columbus District Office. This SBA district serves 60 counties in southern Ohio. Depending on where you’re based, you can contact the main office in Columbus, satellite office in Cincinnati, or the virtual office in Dayton.

Alternative Funding Sources for Small Businesses in Ohio

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

Ohio State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI)

Ohio’s SSBCI is a federally funded program for small business owners in the Buckeye State. Federal law — the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — allocates more than $182 million to Ohio’s State Small Business Credit Initiative program.

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

•  Ohio Venture Fund — $75 million. This program will help eligible growth-stage technology companies access venture capital.

•  Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Loan Participation Program — $45.7 million. This program uses SSBCI funds alongside private funds to support loans to Ohio entrepreneurs who need financing for working capital, research and development, real estate transactions, or other eligible purposes.

•  Ohio Early Stage Focus Fund — $36.7 million. This program will help eligible early-stage technology companies access venture capital, including minority woman-owned small businesses in the Buckeye State.

Ohio Microloan Lenders

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

Ohio SMB Loans from Private Lenders

Banks, credit unions, and private lenders may offer different types of small business loans to Ohio 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: Typical Small Business Loan Fees

The Takeaway

Ohio small businesses can explore a number of different grants, 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.


Get personalized small business financing quotes with SoFi's marketplace.

FAQ

How do you get a small business grant in Ohio?

You can apply for Ohio 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 Ohio.

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

You may have difficulty getting a small business loan in Ohio 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 $50K. If you’re looking for a streamlined application process, SBA Express working capital loans are an option you may consider.


Photo credit: iStock/risamay

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