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avigating the world of small business financing in the Heart of Dixie can seem like a daunting task, but securing a small business loan in Alabama is not as complicated as it might seem. From Birmingham's bustling business districts to the coastal enterprises of Mobile, Alabama's rich commercial tapestry is supported by various financial institutions and government programs, all committed to fostering entrepreneurial growth.
Keep reading to get an overview of the top small business loan and grant opportunities in Alabama.
Small business loan opportunities in Alabama
Alabama Association of Regional Councils Revolving Loan Fund
The Alabama Association of Regional Councils operates a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to support small businesses and industries in Alabama. The RLF provides gap financing, which is a type of financing that covers the shortfall between the total cost of a project and the amount a borrower can obtain from a primary lender. The RLF aims to stimulate job creation by assisting businesses in their start-up and expansion phases.
You can use the funds for a range of activities, including purchasing land or buildings, constructing or renovating buildings, buying equipment and machinery, and providing working capital. The interest rates are below prime, and loan amounts are determined based on the project's needs. The RLF may cover up to a third of the total project cost.
The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs runs the AlabamaSAVES program, which provides loans for energy projects at existing commercial, industrial, and nonprofit businesses in Alabama. The program covers a variety of technologies, detailed in the program technical guide.
To apply, you’ll need to contact an AlabamaSAVES representative. You also have to submit an energy assessment defining the project to be eligible for funding. The loan amounts range from $50,000 to $4,000,000, with an interest rate of 2% and payback terms of up to 10 years.
ADECA State Small Business Credit Initiative
The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program is designed to increase credit availability for small businesses. The SSBCI was created as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and is managed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In Alabama, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) oversees the SSBCI.
The SSBCI guarantees term loans or lines of credit to new and existing small businesses in collaboration with local banks. The SSBCI program has a cap of $5 million, and the loan proceeds must be used for a business purpose, such as start-up costs, working capital, equipment, construction, renovation, or other associated business costs.
Small business grant opportunities in Alabama
In your search for funding, you've likely encountered the enticing prospect of small business grants, a type of funding that doesn't require repayment. The idea of receiving funds with no repayment strings attached sounds almost too good to be true. And in most cases, it is. While there are grants available, the vast majority are for nonprofit businesses.
However, some competitions offer grants to small business owners. They may be open to anyone or may be intended for specific groups, such as veterans. Here are some competitions available in Alabama:
- The Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant: The Innovate Alabama Supplemental Grant recently awarded over $3 million to help Alabama businesses bring their products to market. The program awards up to $250,000 in supplemental funds to businesses that have received Phase I or Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.
- FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: FedEx awards 10 winners $30,000 each. An additional U.S. veteran winner receives $20,000 from USAA. The People’s Choice winner receives $1,000.
- Ladies Who Launch: This competition offers a $10,000 grant and six months of educational programming to businesses owned by women and nonbinary people.
- National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants: Grants worth up to $4,000 are offered to NASE members looking to expand their businesses.
- Fearless Strivers: Four small businesses owned by black women across the country receive $20,000 grants each.
- The Second Service Foundation Military Entrepreneur Challenge: Veterans, active duty members, or spouses of military veterans or active duty members can receive up to $15,000.
Consider loan alternatives
If traditional funding seems out of reach, the following alternatives may be useful, depending on the specific circumstances and needs of your business.
Lines of credit
A line of credit is a flexible loan that gives a business access to a fixed amount of capital, which can be used for any purpose related to the business. Instead of receiving a lump sum of money, businesses get a pool of funds that they can draw from as needed. It operates similarly to a credit card in that interest is only charged on the amount of money used, and once that money is paid back, the line of credit is refilled to the original amount.
Merchant cash advances
Merchant cash advances (MCA) are a form of financing where a business sells a portion of its future credit card sales in exchange for immediate funding. Essentially, a business receives a lump sum up front, then repays the advance with a percentage of its daily or weekly credit card sales. MCAs can be beneficial for businesses that have a high volume of credit card transactions and need quick access to funds.
Invoice factoring, also known as accounts receivable financing, involves a business selling its unpaid invoices to a third party, a factoring company, at a discount. The factoring company then assumes the risk of collecting the invoice payments. Invoice factoring can be particularly useful for businesses with cash flow issues due to long invoice payment terms, although fees can be higher than with other financing options.
Traditional and nontraditional sources can provide the necessary funds to start, manage, and grow your business in Alabama. Whichever option you choose, carefully managing your business finances can keep you on the path to success. Having the right business checking account can help. With Novo business banking, you can easily track your expenses, transfer money, and make payments, all from the convenience of your mobile device.
Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.
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