Incentive Grant Program Available Through Highland County EDA
Incentive Grant applications are now available in Highland County. The Highland County Economic Development Authority evaluates applications and awards the grants to local businesses. The Incentive Grant Program is designed to encourage entrepreneurship, new jobs and the growth of small businesses.
Betty Mitchell is the Economic Development Officer for the Highland County EDA.
“We award grants in the range of $2,000 up to $5,000 per business,” says Mitchell. “They can use that for startup or expansion expenses, purchasing supplies, equipment, inventory. Some minor renovations if they’ve moved to a new commercial location that needs something done, utility connections and advertising and marketing expenses. We I think have had someone use it for job training in the past. We are also aware of some additional job training funds that might be available through the state, so we encourage applicants to look there first. The fund is not designed to use it for just normal operations, such as rent, utilities, payroll. Those expenses are business expenses, so this is something that really will take the business to a different level or help them get started up.”
This is an annual program that started about five years ago. The Highland County Board of Supervisors funds the program and each year adds the money to the EDA’s budget for the grant awards.
“We do not allow non-profits to apply nor government agencies,” says Mitchell. “But otherwise any business that’s located in Highland County, with the exception of B and B’s. Those have been taken out of eligibility for the grant, because we feel like they have such limited economic impact from a standpoint of job creation.”
“We have an application that people can download on the Highland County Chamber of Commerce’s website and that has everything in here,” says Mitchell. “We do have a scoring sheet in there so people can look at what we’ll be judging the grants on and that includes the number of employees, the use of the fund. People do need to submit a business plan and that business plan has to have a financial section, as well as their marketing. And then the readiness to undertake whatever portion of the business expansion or startup they are doing is also included as scoring factors.”
Applications are due February 1, 2021.
“There are SCORE counselors who even during this COVID time are happy to work with any applicants that have questions or may need help and they can do that either through telephone or ZOOM call,” says Mitchell. “The Highland Center will help schedule those for anyone who would like to take advantage of that.”
“One of the questions we had someone ask us is if they got money through the CARES Act grant did that make them ineligible for this program and the answer to that is no,” says Mitchell. “They would be eligible if the project that they’re proposing meets all the criteria. And I will say people who’ve gotten financial support through the Incentive Program in the past four years will not be eligible for this.”