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Jordan Schneir
By: jordan_shneir
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Top 5 California Small Business Grants

Getting funding for your company is an essential first step or pivot point, but it can be extremely challenging. A great alternative to a typical line of credit is California small business grants. 

You have a great idea to expand your small business; you do your research and write up a plan that proves there’s a market, potential profits, and almost guarantees success; but without adequate funding, you can’t make it happen. 

A great option is California small business grants. 

Their upside is clear and extremely valuable; you don’t have to pay the money back. 

Seeking California small business grants is certainly not a funding method you can solely rely on. Still, it’s a savvy choice to pursue in addition to other sources, like small business loans. 

In this article, we will list some of the top small business grants available in California and provide details about eligibility.

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Top 5 California Small Business Grants you can Apply for

This list of small business grants in California includes government institutions, non-profits, and private companies providing money for various types of businesses and at different stages in their development. 

1. Calling All Dreamers

California Small Business Grants

The Calling All Dreamers contest was created in 2013 by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (a private, non-profit organization that furthers the improvement of this district).

The contest was created to help entrepreneurs open their first storefront in downtown Sacramento. Not only can first-time entrepreneurs enter the contest, if you have an already established business (that has no brick and mortar location), this could be your chance to grow your business with your first physical location.

If you win this retail business plan competition, you can receive up to $10,000 in matching funds plus mentoring and resources (like financial planning, design, marketing, legal services, and accounting, to mention a few).

2. California Rural Business Development Grants

California Small Business Grants

Created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the California Rural Business Development Grants are only available to small businesses in rural areas or towns.

If you get the grant, you’ll also receive technical assistance and training.

The maximum award is $500,000, and it must be used to benefit A small business and the rural area it’s in.

3. Community Development Block Program (CDBG) – Economic Development (ED)

California Small Business Grants

This CDBG ED grant is provided by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The goal is to increase economic development and preserve low-income jobs in rural communities by aiding local businesses. 

The total amount awarded is up to $500,000, but only companies building publicly-owned infrastructure and microenterprise assistance are eligible. Local governments decide which companies receive grants through their own process.

All other applicable businesses that create private-sector jobs for low-income people can only receive loans.

4. Infill Infrastructure Grant Program (IIG)

California Small Business Grants

The IIG was created by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. This California small business grant provides funds for the construction, rehabilitation, demolition, relocation, preservation, and acquisition of infrastructure of Capital Improvement Projects.

Small jurisdiction applications are accepted at any time until all the available funds run out. Developers must apply with a city or county. 

Depending on the location and the project, the funding is between $500,000 and $2 million.

5. The California Sustainable Energy Entrepreneur Development (CalSEED) Initiative

California Small Business Grants

The CalSEED Initiative grant is available for clean-energy businesses that need funding to market their concepts and prototypes.

CalSEED offers grants from its $24 million fund. Winners can receive up to $150,000 for their concepts.

Winners also get the opportunity to participate in top clean-energy events, webinars, and accelerators, like CleanTech Open.

On a further stage, businesses will create a business plan and develop prototypes for an opportunity to win up to $450,000.

While most of these are for particular types of businesses; you can still access other types of grants that are not specific for California, like SBA Grants.

BONUS: California Competes Tax Credit

As the name suggests, the California Competes Tax Credit is not a grant per se but a tax credit you can apply for if you have a business and want to relocate to California or stay and grow in California.

Tax Credit
A tax credit is an amount that can be subtracted from the taxes you owe to the government.

The government of the state offers over $180 million in tax credits each fiscal year.

Each year, there are three application periods where all the fundings are dispersed.

The application evaluates different things (for example, the number of jobs created) to select the businesses that will receive these tax credits.

Before each application process, there’s always a webinar to help business owners with step-by-step instructions to apply.

California Small Business Grants: tips

Tips to Increase your Chances of Getting a Grant

Getting a business grant is no small ordeal. It’s quite a lengthy process with requirements that could be tough to meet. But it shouldn’t discourage you from applying! The benefits could be huge.

Here are some tips that could help you when applying for a grant.

  • Do your due diligence, make sure you research the grant, and understand the requirements to the T. This will help you prepare a more comprehensive application.
  • Take time when preparing your proposal. A rushed application won’t help you in any way, but a thoughtful and well-written one has better chances of being approved.
  • Give some thought to your proposal: a run-of-the-mill proposal might not get you anywhere, but an innovative and attractive proposal will.
  • Understand your business. If you know what your strengths and your weaknesses are, then you’ll know how to present your business when applying for a grant.
  • Make sure to show off your track record. Put your best foot forward and let them know how successful you are.
  • If the grant requires you to send a budget, don’t get too excited: a sound budget has more chances of winning than an over-the-top super expensive budget.
  • If you don’t meet the requirements, don’t apply. It’s a better idea to find a different grant that does fit your business.
  • Don’t apply to just one grant; apply to several: if you don’t get your first option, you might get one of the others.
  • If you’ve met someone that has been awarded a grant, ask them for tips.

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The Importance of Accessing Capital

Maybe you need to purchase a piece of equipment, make key hires, or finally move into that bigger office. The only way to do that is with capital

Obtaining capital through California small business grants is essential to get you to reach that next stage. 

For some people, grants may not be the best option, as it may take a long time (even months) to receive the funding. 

If an opportunity presents itself and you can’t jump on it because you don’t have the cash, it may never present itself again. If you turn down a big job or blow an opportunity, your reputation could be ruined, and your business could be destroyed before it even had a chance to succeed. 

That’s why it’s always a good idea to apply for small business loans (that can even be used as bridge loans). Funds are dispersed way quicker, and they can be used for a multitude of reasons that make your business grow and achieve success.

Camino Financial small business loans are a fantastic funding alternative.

💰Small Business Grants: CaliforniaCamino Financial Business Loans
Response TimeDepends on the grant process, but receiving a grant can take up to several monthsOur funding process is speedy; you can receive your business loan in 2 to 10 days
ApplicabilityOnly businesses that the grant was intended, most grants are only for particular industries or specific cities/countiesMost small businesses can apply and receive a small business loan
AmountOnly as much as the grant allows for the award, usually grants are up to $500,000Based on your need, risk, and expected profits. Get small business loans up to $400,000
Credit scoreYou need to have a very strong credit score to apply.You can apply even if you don’t have a credit history.
ITINMostly all of the time, they don’t accept ITIN. You need to have an SSN.You can apply with your ITIN.

Strengthen your Business with Capital

While the financial benefits of raising capital with California small business grants are clear, their often stringent requirements, difficulty to obtain, and limited scope are not for everybody. 

The thought of incurring debt when your company is at a critical transition point might make you nervous, but it’s a common scenario for practically all businesses. And we are here to guide you through the process. 

We know how important it is to get the funding you need promptly. At Camino Financial, no business is left behind. We will help you secure the money your business needs. 

Don’t wait, apply for a Camino Financial small business loan today!



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