Are you a small business owner in Maryland seeking funding to help your small business? You’re in luck, the Maryland NBW Business Boost Microgrant opens for applications this week on March 13, 2014! This grant program offers free grants to eligible businesses, providing support for growth and expansion initiatives. Use this comprehensive guide to understand if you are eligible to apply for funding for your Maryland small business in 2024.

Step 1: Get Information About the Business Boost Microgrant

Overview- The Maryland Neighborhood Business Works Program (NBW) Business Boost Microgrant

The Maryland Neighborhood Business Works Program (NBW) Business Boost Microgrant is a competitive grant program through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development designed to empower small businesses across the state. 

Eligible businesses within the state of Maryland can apply for microgrants between $20,000 to $50,000 to access funding to fuel your growth and development. 

The purpose of the NBW Business Boost Microgrant is to assist businesses that want to expand their business or establish a location. The program also seeks to support home-based businesses in establishing their first commercial location outside of the home. However, certain business types are ineligible to apply. 

The NPW Business Boost Microgrant Can Be Used For:

You can use this funding to grow your business by using this microgrant to pay for expenses that include capital and operating expenses. Your budget can include expenses such as salaries, rent, utilities, product advertising, product development, commercial real estate acquisition, and
professional services.

(Note: professional services businesses cannot apply, however, eligible businesses can use funds to pay for professional services for their business.)

Apply Here

Go here to register and apply when the application opens after 3/13/24.

Get More Info

Go to the official state website for all official grant information.

Get Support

Contact us if you are eligible and need support preparing your application.


Step 2: Determine if You’re Eligible to Apply

You Can Apply for the Business Boost Microgrant If…

To qualify for the Maryland NBW Business Boost Microgrant your business must meet specific criteria. 

Eligible applicants include for-profit businesses located within designated Sustainable Communities areas in Maryland. You must also:

  • Have between 2 and 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, 
  • Annual revenue of at least $50,000 but no more than $1 million. 
  • Be in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT).

Ineligible Businesses- You Cannot Apply If…

Your business must be an eligible business type to apply for this grant. You should NOT apply to this grant if your business is included in the list below. 

  • Professional services and sales-based businesses, including: Insurance, Accounting, Real Estate, Legal, Finance and other similar structured businesses are not eligible. 
  • Non-profit organizations.
  • Other ineligible businesses: Cannabis-based businesses, pawn shops, gun shops, massage parlors, adult video/book shops, adult entertainment facilities, tanning salons, check-cashing facilities, gambling facilities, tattoo parlors, and liquor stores are not eligible. 
  • Previous NBW Opportunity Zone grant recipients

What Will Happen If You Apply and You Are An Ineligible Business Type?

Good question! In the first round of grant review, you will be screened out of the competition if you are not eligible, including if you are not the right type of business for this grant. You must meet all eligibility criteria for a grant to be awarded.

How Can I Find Funding for These Types of Businesses?

Other grants may be available for professional services businesses on our grant opportunities list page. Check this link for other grants you may qualify for. 

Nonprofit organizations are eligible for many types of grants- book a consultation with one of our experts for nonprofit-specific grant readiness support.

Womeneurs discussing business around a table
meet the requirements for funding

We give you the tools you need to get funded.

Need help developing your budget? Not sure if you qualify?
Still not sure how many employees count as a Full Time Equivalent?

Don’t worry! We’re here to help!

  • We’ll check your eligibility for this grant.
  • We help you create a budget and plan for funding.
  • We show you how to navigate the tricky parts like maps, funding preferences, and FTEs.

Step 3: Identify Your Priority Preferences

How to Be Competitive for the NBW Business Boost Microgrant 

To be competitive your business should also meet one or more of the priority impact attributes. Maryland businesses seeking funding will be given priority if they: 

  • Are within a Sustainable Communities area. (Required)
  • Drive innovation or technology advancements.
  • Are growing new industries.
  • Focus on regional strengths to grow local economies.
  • Leverage partnerships between local school districts, community colleges, and other higher education institutions in Maryland.
  • Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

If you meet one or more of these criteria plus the eligibility criteria, you will need to demonstrate both your eligibility and your priority status within your application.


Step 4: Document Your Matching Funds

Understanding the Matching Funds Requirements

Matching funds can be tricky to navigate so you must pay close attention to the application requirements. Qualifying matching funds for this grant you must prove you have matching funds equal to or greater than the grant request amount 

For example If you request the minimum of $20,000, you must have at least $20,000 in matching funds. If you are requesting $50,000 you must have at least $50,000 in matching funds available. 

Types of Proof Required for Matching Funds

The proof you must submit for this requirement is: 

  • Business bank statement as of December 31, 2023 showing cash balance greater than the grant request amount
  • Copy of a loan statement from a financial institution that shows available funds for withdrawal greater than the grant request amount

Step 5: Check Your Location Closely

Location: Where Your Business Is Located Matters

For this application, the single most important eligibility criteria is the location of your business or proposed new location. You must use the Neighborhood Revitalization Mapper to determine if your business is in an eligible location. 

The problem is, the mapper is difficult for the average business owner to navigate with ease. We can help you ensure you are eligible, book an appointment today to have one of our experts walk you through the map requirement.

Step by Step Instructions to Use the Neighborhood Revitalization Mapper

Follow these steps to determine if the location of your business is eligible for funding easily. 

  1. Type your address into the look-up box on the top of the map where it says “Find address or place”
  2. Select your address from the drop-down menu
  3. Click on the ‘layers list” button in the left menu
  4. Turn on the layer for Sustainable Communities (DHCD) if it is not already on
  5. Turn off ALL other layers by clicking the checkboxes so they are blank
How to Interpret the Map Using the Neighborhood Revitalization Mapper

By following the instructions above you are isolating the grant requirement to be located within a sustainable communities designated area. 

You are eligible to apply if the location you entered in step 2 is showing as located within an orange area. 

If the address falls outside of an orange area on the map, you should not apply for this funding opportunity because your business is not eligible for funding. You must provide a screenshot of this map demonstrating your business is in an eligible location (orange area). 

Although we turned off the other priority area layers, they do matter and can help you demonstrate the need for business growth in the geographic area you work in. For additional information on how to maximize your geographic location for eligible businesses, book a consultation with our grant experts.


Step 6: Calculate Your Full Time Equivalents

What is a Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)?

FTE stands for Full-Time Equivalent, and it is a term commonly used in business to measure the total workload of an employee or a group of employees. Essentially, FTE represents the number of full-time employees a company has, taking into account both full-time and part-time employees.

In the context of the Maryland NBW Business Boost Microgrant application, understanding FTE is essential for determining eligibility criteria.

To calculate FTE, you need to divide each employee’s scheduled hours by the employer’s standard hours for a full-time work week.

Here’s a simple formula to help you get started.

1 FTE

Full Time Equivalent

# hours

Total hours worked in a week

/ 40 hours

Divided by 40 for standard work week

The total number of FTEs for the business must be between 2 and 50 FTEs. Even if this number is split amongst more employees than FTES, we are counting FTEs not people. That means you must have at least 2 FTEs when you combine your employee count in full-time equivalents.

How Do I Calculate My FTEs?

Calculating full-time equivalent (FTE) employees is crucial for determining eligibility. Divide each employee’s scheduled hours by the employer’s hours for a full-time workweek. For example, an employee scheduled to work 40 hours per week counts as 1.0 FTE, while an employee scheduled for 20 hours counts as 0.5 FTE. 

FTE calculations help businesses assess their workforce capacity and determine their eligibility for grants, such as the NBW Business Boost Microgrant. It’s important to accurately calculate FTE to ensure compliance with eligibility requirements and maximize your chances of securing funding for your business.

FTE Calculation Pro Tip- Pay Attention!

Reminder! FTE and salaries are not the same thing. A full-time equivalent is dependent upon how many hours a person is working regardless of salaried position or hourly.

You will count the total number of hours that person works on an average work week against your full-time work schedule. If your full-time work schedule is a 32-hour work week because everyone gets Fridays off you will divide the total hours per week by 32, not 40.

If you are having trouble calculating your FTEs, book an appointment with our grant experts to have guided help.

Step 7: Develop Your Application and Budget so You Can Submit

Before you develop your strategy and budget, make sure you know how you are being judged. Review the scoring criteria so you can ensure you meet all the requirements and maximize your points. Don’t forget to reach out if you need help developing your strategy and budget to meet the requirements.

Review Criteria- How You Will be Scored:

Your application will go through a thorough evaluation, considering many factors to determine eligibility and suitability for funding. 

  • Location: The evaluation criteria for this grant includes the geographic location of the business, assessing its alignment with designated Sustainable Communities areas. 
  • Expansion: Additionally, the impact of the business’s expansion plans are critically important. Areas that will be reviewed include projections on new hires, capital investments earmarked for expansion, and the proposed increase in square footage for the project. 
  • Financials: The completeness of the application, including the presentation of the business’s financials and supporting documents are a critical part of the review process.

You must demonstrate that you are ready, willing, and able, to spend the funding you are asking for. The thoroughness of your application and ability to demonstrate you meet a funding priority will help increase your score. 

To secure help getting all the details right, book a consultation with one of our grant experts today.


NBW Business Boost Microgrant Key Questions Answered:

Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the NBW Business Boost Microgrant.

The Maryland NBW Business Boost Microgrant is part of the state’s initiative to support small businesses through grant funding. It provides financial assistance to eligible businesses looking to grow and expand within Sustainable Communities areas.

The funds from the Maryland NBW Business Boost Microgrant can be utilized for a range of capital and operating expenses aimed at supporting revenue growth between March 13, 2024, and September 13, 2024. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Salary: Covering wages for existing or newly hired employees.
  • Rent: Payment of lease or rental expenses for business premises.
  • Utilities: Meeting utility bills such as electricity, water, and internet services.
  • Product Advertising: Investing in marketing efforts to promote products or services.
  • Product Development: Funding initiatives geared towards enhancing existing products or developing new ones.
  • Commercial Real Estate Acquisition: Acquisition or leasing of commercial real estate for business operations.
  • Professional Services: Using professional services such as legal, accounting, or consultancy to support business activities and growth strategies. (Note professional services cannot apply to this grant, but the grant will cover the costs of using professional services for eligible businesses.)

These funds aim to provide flexibility and support to businesses in

  • Articles of Organization for the business.
  • By-laws for the business.
  • Most recent annual tax return for the business (preferably for Tax year 2022).
  • Organization’s financial statements as of December 31, 2023.
  • Screen-shot showing the business is in an eligible location.
  • Proof of matching funds equal to or greater than the grant request amount. Examples of proof include:
    • A copy of the business’s bank statement as of December 31, 2023, showing a cash balance greater than the grant request amount.
    • A copy of a loan statement from a financial institution showing available funds for withdrawal greater than the grant request amount.
  • Screen capture of an online verification of Certificate of Good Standing from the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation. (Note: No need to purchase an official document; a screenshot from https://egov.maryland.gov/BusinessExpress/EntitySearch will suffice.)
  • IRS W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification.

When developing your budget for the NBW Business Boost Microgrant application, consider both capital and operating expenses that will support revenue growth. Allocate funds for salaries, rent, utilities, product development, advertising, and professional services.

We recommend that you use a simple budget template like our free template you can access here. Book an appointment with our grant experts to receive assistance developing your budget.

You will need to certify that you are eligible to register and apply. You will be asked to confirm you meet the eligibility described above and these three criteria as well:

  • Will capital investment be used to support or expand into the sustainable community; or
  • Will square footage of commercial operation be increased in the sustainable community; or
  • Will the number of new hires at the location within the sustainable community be increased?

You will also need your square footage, expected employee growth, Standard Industrial Code (SIC), North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, Federal Employer Identification Number, address of your current location, address of your desired location, and a brief description of how you will spend the funds under 2,000 characters.


Final Tips for Submitting the NBW Business Boost Microgrant

Your opportunity to secure funding for your small business in Maryland is RIGHT NOW VIA the Maryland NBW Business Boost Microgrant. 

By understanding the application process, meeting eligibility criteria, and developing a robust budget, you can save time and apply immediately. High volumes of applicants are expected and only $2 Million dollars will be awarded across the state. That means 40 or more $20 – $50K grants are available for eligible Maryland-based businesses in sustainable community designated areas. 

Remember you must meet all eligibility requirements to submit your application. Additionally, your grant award must be approved by local resolution from your governing executive body approving of the grant. 

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to access free grants and propel your business forward. 

Apply for the NBW Business Boost Microgrant today and to expand your Maryland business in 2024! 

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