What are the 14 Most Promising Grants for Small Businesses in Tennessee?

grants for small businesses in tennessee

Are you a small business owner in Tennessee looking to supercharge your growth and innovation? Well, look no further, because we’ve got some fantastic news for you. Tennessee is teeming with promising opportunities in the form of grants for small businesses in Tennessee! These grants can be your ticket to success, providing the financial boost your business needs to thrive.

In the Volunteer State, small businesses play a vital role in driving economic growth and job creation. Recognizing their significance, various federal, state, and local programs offer grants tailored to support these businesses. Whether you’re a tech startup in Nashville, a rural enterprise in East Tennessee, or an artistic venture in Memphis, there are grants designed to suit your unique needs.

But the question is, do we have grants for small businesses in Tennessee? In this blog, we’ll take you on a journey through the world of grants, highlighting the top opportunities that can take your business to the next level. So, if you’re ready to unlock the secrets of funding success, keep reading!

What is a Small Business Grant?

A Small Business Grant is a financial assistance program typically provided by government agencies, nonprofit organizations, or private entities to support small businesses. These grants are designed to help small businesses access funding without the need for repayment, unlike loans. Small business grants can be used for various purposes, such as business expansion, research and development, job creation, community development, and specific projects aligned with the grant provider’s objectives. There are available grants for small businesses in Tennessee.

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Most Promising Grants for Small Businesses in Tennessee

Tennessee is a great place to start or grow a small business. The state has a low cost of living, a business-friendly environment, and a strong workforce. There are also many resources available to help small businesses succeed, including grants.

Here are some of the most promising grants for small businesses in Tennessee:

1. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program stands as a fiercely competitive federal effort aimed at motivating American small businesses to partake in research and development (R&D) ventures that hold promise for commercialization. The SBIR program is overseen by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and spans 11 federal agencies that actively participate, including the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.


2. Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE)

Memphis’ commitment to economic development is evident through the EDGE program, which provides grants and incentives to businesses willing to invest in the city. These grants can significantly offset startup and operational costs.

See also: Block Grants vs Categorical Grants: Which One is Best for You?

3. Tennessee FastTrack Economic Development Fund

This is one of the grants for small businesses in Tennessee The FastTrack Economic Development Fund aims to foster employment generation, facilitate the growth of enterprises, and promote economic advancement within Tennessee. This initiative provides financial assistance to local administrations and enterprises for enhancing infrastructure, enhancing workforce skills, and executing various economic development initiatives that directly enhance the prospects of small businesses in the state. While not exclusively targeted at small businesses, these grants can indirectly boost small businesses by cultivating a conducive atmosphere for expansion and job generation.

4. Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program

Similar to SBIR, the STTR program supports cooperative research and development between small businesses and research institutions. This program is particularly beneficial for businesses looking to collaborate with Tennessee’s renowned universities and research centers.

5. Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) Financing Assistance 

The TSBDC is a statewide network of offices that provide confidential business consulting and expert training to small business owners and entrepreneurs. TSBDC supplies valuable resources and assistance to small businesses in Tennessee. It aids in business planning, financing, licensing, and other critical elements of initiating and expanding a small enterprise. By linking small businesses to an extensive array of state and federal resources, the TSBDC can assist entrepreneurs in identifying and obtaining financial opportunities, including grants and low-interest loans.

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6. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grant

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s EDA (Economic Development Administration) provides grants to bolster economic growth, foster job opportunities, and promote the expansion of businesses within financially challenged communities. Typically, these grants are bestowed upon local governments, non-profit entities, and organizations dedicated to economic development. They aid small businesses by offering technical support, advancing infrastructure, and delivering additional services.

7. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Economic Development Programs

The TVA provides a range of initiatives aimed at bolstering economic growth and employment opportunities in the Tennessee Valley area. Among these programs and resources are:

a. Valley Investment Initiative (VII) – This initiative extends incentives to companies that generate new employment opportunities and undertake substantial capital investments in the region.

b. Rural Development Loan Fund – This program extends low-interest loans to businesses situated in rural areas, intending to foster job generation and promote economic development.

Read also: How to Get Small Business Grants in Michigan: The Insider’s Guide

8. Tennessee Small Business Relief Program

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tennessee Small Business Relief Program was launched to provide financial assistance to small businesses affected by the crisis. This grant program has been instrumental in helping businesses stay afloat during these challenging times.

9. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Grants 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal entity that offers assistance to small enterprises through loans, guarantees, and various initiatives. Additionally, the SBA provides grants to small businesses, although these grants are typically allocated to businesses pursuing specific objectives, such as stimulating economic growth or fostering job creation.

The SBA is a federal agency that provides loans, grants, and other assistance to small businesses. The SBA offers a variety of grants for small businesses, including grants for women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and businesses located in underserved areas.

Also check: Top 7 Small Business Grants in Colorado You Must Consider

10. Rural Opportunity Fund

Tennessee’s rural communities often face unique economic challenges. The Rural Opportunity Fund offers grants to businesses located in rural areas, promoting economic development and job creation in these regions.

11. Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program

Agriculture plays a vital role in Tennessee’s economy. The Agricultural Enhancement Program offers grants to farmers and agricultural businesses, promoting sustainable practices and growth in the agricultural sector.

12. Targeted Grant Programs

There are also several targeted grant programs available to small businesses in Tennessee. These programs are designed to support specific industries or types of businesses, such as rural businesses, manufacturing businesses, and businesses that create jobs for veterans or people with disabilities.

13. Nashville Entrepreneur Center Grants

Nashville’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem offers several grant opportunities through the Nashville Entrepreneur Center. These grants focus on fostering innovation and supporting startups in various industries.

14. Tennessee Arts Commission Grants

For businesses in the arts and cultural sector, the Tennessee Arts Commission offers grants to support projects, performances, and initiatives that enrich the state’s cultural landscape.

See also: How to Successfully Apply for Amazon Small Business Grants in 2023

Tips for Applying for Small Business Grants in Tennessee?

Certainly, here are some valuable tips for applying for small business grants in Tennessee:

  1. Research Thoroughly: Before you start applying for grants, take the time to research and identify the ones that align with your business’s goals and needs. Understand the eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and specific requirements for each grant program.
  2. Create a Solid Business Plan: Most grant applications will require you to submit a business plan. Ensure your plan is well-crafted, outlining your business goals, strategies, financial projections, and how the grant will help you achieve them. A well-thought-out plan increases your chances of success.
  3. Review Your Finances: Grant applications may require you to disclose your financial statements and demonstrate your need for financial assistance. Ensure your financial records are accurate and up-to-date. Highlight any financial challenges your business is facing.
  4. Prepare Necessary Documents: Gather all the required documents, including tax returns, business licenses, and legal documents. Having these ready in advance will make the application process smoother.
  5. Craft a Compelling Narrative: Use persuasive language in your application to explain why your business deserves the grant. Highlight your business’s unique qualities, the impact it has on the community, and how the grant will contribute to its success.
  6. Follow Instructions Carefully: Pay close attention to the application instructions provided by the grant program. Ensure you meet all the requirements, format your application correctly, and include all requested information.
  7. Demonstrate Community Impact: Many grant programs in Tennessee prioritize businesses that positively impact their local communities. Highlight how your business contributes to the community, such as by creating jobs or supporting local initiatives.
  8. Seek Professional Help: If you’re unsure about the application process or need assistance with crafting a strong application, consider seeking help from business consultants, grant writers, or local small business support organizations.
  9. Proofread and edit: Carefully proofread your application to eliminate grammatical errors and ensure clarity. A well-edited application reflects professionalism and attention to detail.
  10. Submit Early: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application. Submit it well before the deadline to avoid technical glitches or last-minute rushes.
  11. Follow-up: After submitting your application, follow up with the grant program to confirm receipt and inquire about the timeline for reviews and decisions. This shows your commitment and interest in the grant.
  12. Be Patient: Grant application processes can take time, and competition can be fierce. Be patient while waiting for a response, and continue working on your business in the meantime.

By following these tips and putting in the effort to create a compelling grant application, you can increase your chances of securing valuable financial assistance for your small business in Tennessee.

See also: How to Raise Grants Effectively: A Step-by-Step Guide


Navigating the world of grants for small businesses in Tennessee can be a game-changer for entrepreneurs. These grants provide financial support, training opportunities, and the chance to make a meaningful impact on local communities. As you explore your options, remember that each grant serves a unique purpose, so choose the one that aligns best with your business goals. With determination and the right resources, your small business in Tennessee can thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How do I apply for these grants?

Applying for grants in Tennessee typically involves applying through the respective grant program’s official website. Each grant may have specific eligibility criteria and application deadlines, so be sure to thoroughly review the requirements.

Q: Are these grants available to all types of businesses?

While many grants are open to a wide range of small businesses, eligibility criteria can vary. Some grants may be industry-specific or designed for businesses in certain geographic areas. It’s essential to check each grant’s eligibility requirements.

Q: What should I include in my grant application?

Grant applications often require detailed information about your business, including financial statements, business plans, and explanations of how you intend to use the grant funds. It’s crucial to provide accurate and well-organized documentation.

Q: How competitive are these grants?

The competitiveness of grants can vary, but it’s essential to prepare a strong application that highlights your business’s unique qualities and how the grant will benefit the community or the state.

Q: Can I apply for multiple grants simultaneously?

Yes, you can apply for multiple grants simultaneously, provided you meet the eligibility criteria for each. However, it’s crucial to manage your applications carefully to ensure you meet all deadlines and requirements.



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