Are Government Grants to Small Businesses Going Unused?

There are about 4,500 grants and incentives programs for businesses and other organizations valued at about $26-billion a year in Canada, many of these grants go unused, according to an article in the Globe and Mail.

Ottawa provides a comprehensive list of all grants available on its business grants and financing website. Yet, experts claim that many companies are unaware of the numerous grants they are actually eligible for. With some time and energy spent to research, small businesses can gain grants for various purposes.

When they do make the effort, and their applications are successful, the additional money can go a long way to help them achieve their goals, Chris Casemore, director of client management and development at Mentor Works Ltd a consulting company that helps businesses discover grants they can apply for and supports them through the application process said in the article.

Companies can choose between two main types of government incentives: retroactive, which provide tax incentives, and proactive, in which the applicant receives approval for funding upfront and is reimbursed as the funded project is carried out.

Clients who finally understand the available of grants often feel they should’ve started using grants sooner, Casemore added. “Business owners should be using this as an alternative financing source and should be integrating it into their strategic planning – and they should be doing it now. This funding is there specifically to help them grow.” He said.

However not all grants are being unused. Some like the IRAP, (Industrial Research Assistance Program) sees a large number of companies applying.

The best type of grants for new businesses can be hiring grants.

Hiring and training are the most accessible for young businesses, Casemore says. Canada Job Grant, for instance, covers at least half of eligible costs of training employees on the payroll. The percentage of funding varies depending on company size. Coverage can be 100 per cent if any of the trainees were recently unemployed.

Hiring grants are available throughout the year and can cover up to 70 percent of the wage of the person being hired. Many of the programs are for post-secondary graduates or students who have relevant work experience.

According to experts the grants work on a first come first served basis.

The timeline of the grant is very important. Similarly, companies mustn’t bring the new hire onto the payroll before they have been accepted for funding, since it could disqualify the job candidate from the subsidy.

Businesses can also apply for and receive more than one grant for a project, but they need to be aware of funding limits.

To receive the grant, companies should take the application process seriously and submit an application that is worthy of being awarded a grant.  The actual process of applying for a government incentive can be intimidating. Buy being prepared and seeking professional help if needed can make things much easier.