Economic Development Grant Opportunities


NOTE: This list includes archived grant opportunities; not all opportunities are currently available. However, many funding opportunities are cyclical, so it would be in your best interest to keep closed opportunities in mind for future funding needs.

Please remember these are just a select few of the many grant opportunities available for economic development funding. If you are interested in joining our free Watch List for economic development grants, please fill out the form to the right.

The U.S. Department of Commerce administers this grant program, which aims to support the construction or rehabilitation of integral public infrastructure and facilities. Projects covered under this agenda include business parks, industrial access roads, brownfield redevelopment, telecommunications, and broadband infrastructure improvements, as well as many others. Projects awarded grants must be necessary for business creation, retention, or expansion.

Those municipalities aiming to create an economic development plan can look into this grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. This program provides assistance to eligible recipients to create a regional economic development plans. These plans should identify and leverage the unique asset of each region, including those that help create and retain higher-skill and higher-wage jobs. These grants applications are accepted on a rolling basis and awards are announced throughout the year.

There is an estimated $45 million available for this grant program in fiscal year 2013. Municipalities eligible for these grants must be developing programs that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments. This grant program puts an emphasis on partnerships, including non-traditional partnerships such as arts and culture, public education, or food systems.

Both rural and urban towns can apply for this grant program from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). This program supports the implementation of regional economic development strategies designed to create jobs, leverage private capital, encourage economic development, and strengthen America’s ability to compete in the global marketplace.

According to their website, Tourism Cares preserves the travel experience for the benefit of tomorrow's travelers. Part of this preservation is by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations around the world for conservation, preservation, restoration, or education at tourism-related sites. Tourism Cares has awarded nearly $2.5 million in grant funds through its three grant programs. Currently, Tourism Cares is focusing on invitation-only special grants, but will soon be re-opening its grant program to all interested applicants.

This grant could be used for late summer or early fall events or to help increase tourism in your community throughout the year. Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (ILDCEO) provides this matching grant to assist in the development or improvement of projects that increase tourism in Illinois. Grants will not exceed $1 million or exceed 50 percent of the expenditures. 50 percent of the funds are awarded 30 days after approval; 50 percent is awarded upon receipt of specific documentation.

Awarded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (ILDCEO), this grant provides matching funds for promotional projects that increase the economic impact of tourism in the state of Illinois. This grant is for larger tourism projects since total project cost must meet or exceed $20,000. Additionally, the grant requires 50 percent matching funds. This grant can be applied for throughout the year, but must be applied for at least 60 days before the event.

In response to the need for technical assistance for economic development, the Environmental Protection Agency created the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program in 2005. This is an annual program open to state, local, regional, and tribal governments as well as to non-profit organizations that have partnered with a government entity. Typically, 3-5 communities are selected for this program each year and receive direct technical assistance from a team of national experts in one of two areas: policy analysis (e.g., reviewing state and local codes, school siting guidelines, transportation policies, etc.) or public participatory processes (e.g., visioning, design workshops, alternative analysis, build-out analysis, etc.). For example, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) received assistance in 2008 to help develop a scorecard that would evaluate the transportation options available to urban, suburban, and rural residents.

This is a competitive grant program through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that aids to improve the economic condition of rural areas by providing assistance in the startup, expansion, or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities. Grants are awarded competitively on an annual basis to Rural Cooperative Development Centers, who in turn provide technical assistance to individuals and entities. Applicants can include non-profit organizations or institutions of higher education. This program does require a 25 percent match of the total project cost. The maximum grant amount is $200,000, and in Fiscal Year 2013 there was were $6.5 million in program funding.

Every year each state administers Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to local governments to aid in the development of viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanding economic development opportunities primarily for low to moderate-income individuals. HUD distributes funds to each state based on a statutory formula that takes into account population, poverty, incidence of overcrowded housing, and age of housing. Each state develops its own funding priorities and criteria for funding, while also choosing which local governments receive funding. However, local governments must ensure at least 70 percent of its CDBG grant funds are used for activities that benefit low and moderate-income persons. Communities may use CDBG funds for a variety of activities including, but not limited to, acquisition of property, planning activities, public activities, and demolition.

In our home state of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers this federally-funded grant program. It provides grants of up to $750,000 to local governments that can then be loaned to businesses locating or expanding in the community.  Funds may be used for machinery and equipment, working capital, building construction, and renovation.  Grants may also be available for improvements to public infrastructure in direct support of a business that would create and/or retain jobs in the community.  Units of local government in communities with population under 50,000 people are eligible to apply. Many other states offer similar programs to assist local businesses in expansion projects.

The State of Illinois also offers the Business Development Public Infrastructure Program (BDPIP) to local governments for improvements on public infrastructure on behalf of businesses undertaking a major expansion or relocation project. This project must result in substantial private investment and creation or retention of jobs in the state. The grant amount is based on the amount of investment as well as the job creation or retention involved. For this program, at least one private sector job must be created or retained for every $10,000 awarded by the department. Typically, the department will limit its assistance to $500,000 or less. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, with grants available on a very limited basis. Again, other states may have similar programs to assist in infrastructure projects for business expansion.