Small Business & Entrepreneurial Assistance

Creates and retains jobs for small businesses.

Please visit our Trainings and Workshops page for more resources. Detailed application guidelines are posted on the Guidelines and Applications page.


The Small Business and Entrepreneurial Assistance (SBEA) grant program, which began in 2007, was designed to assist local governments that are already in the process of developing a coordinated effort to support and grow their community’s existing, small businesses. In 2011 available funding increased from $1 million to $2.9 million.  These grants are expected to help create and retain jobs within our state's most distressed communities.  The purposes of SBEA grants are to provide funding to local governments to jumpstart growth of existing businesses, create new jobs or retain existing jobs, and to develop plans for creating an entrepreneurial environment in the community.  These grants enable local governments to formulate an economic development strategy to support locally owned and operated businesses.  These grants also intend to assist local governments that are ready to establish and nurture an entrepreneurial-friendly environment that will benefit small businesses/entrepreneurs now and in the future.


Eligibility Requirements:

The program is open to all local governments eligible under the State of NC CDBG program.  At least 70 percent of grant funds must go towards creating or retaining jobs for low-to-moderate income persons.  

Program Intent:

This grant was designed to assist local governments that are already in the process of developing a coordinated effort to support and grow their community’s small businesses.  The local government would identify small businesses ready to hire additional full-time people but in need of funding to make this possible.

Eligible Activities: 

Examples of activities that may be eligible under this program include:

  • Infrastructure improvements (e.g., water, sewer, roads)
  • Purchase of land
  • Construction of a building or other improvements
  • Renovation of an existing building to accommodate the business
  • Construction of tenant improvements/finishes
  • Leasing space in or purchasing an existing building
  • Purchasing capital equipment
  • Providing job training that can be linked to specific jobs at a specific firm. 

 Examples of ineligible activities include:

  • Revolving loan funds
  • Incubator projects for start-up businesses
  • Job training that cannot be linked to a specific job at a specific firm

Small, Existing Business Defined: The business must employ a minimum of one, but not more than 100 full-time employees and must have been in business (in the community applying for the grant) for two or more years.  This grant was purposefully designed to help existing, small businesses. 

Start-up companies are not eligible.  Businesses previously located outside of the local government boundaries (another town, county, state, etc.) are not eligible to participate.  

Establishing an Environment Friendly to Entrepreneurs:  In addition, the grant requires the community to assemble a diverse project team whose purpose is to establish an entrepreneurial environment within the community.  Five thousand ($5,000) dollars is included in the grant to be used by the team to equip themselves (receive training, etc.) to establish and nurture this environment.  This is a required component of the grant. 

Grant Amounts: Local governments are eligible to apply for grants of between $150,000 and $250,000. For every $25,000 of the grant amount, one (1) job must be created.  Please refer to the program guidelines for more detail about this requirement.   

For more information contact:
Iris C. Payne
Programs and Compliance Section Chief
(919) 571-4900 ext. 249
ipayne@nccommerce.com

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