Small businesses in Southern Indiana needing a financial boost may qualify for federal grants under the Elevate Program. The program, through the Federal Home Loan Bank in Indianapolis, offers grants of up to $20,000 for small businesses to expand equipment and workforce training.
The FHL Bank recently partnered with Southern Indiana Development Corporation and some area banks to try and expand the program in Daviess and nearby counties.
“The Elevate presentation offered at West Gate was a wonderful opportunity for the SIDC five-county region. Federal Home Loan Bank brought staff down and networked with member banks in our region, along with small business owners,” said Jessica Potts, resiliency coordinator for SIDC. “They went through the grant process with them, and answered any questions they may have had. FHLB-Indianapolis also paired the businesses with member banks in our region, to come up with a game plan on whether or not they would be interested in submitting a grant application.”
Potts says officials are trying to raise the profile of the grant program because it holds so much potential and is so little known.
“It’s not a loan. It is a small business grant available through the Federal Home Loan Bank. It is something available in Indiana and Michigan,” said Potts. “Companies need to be for profit, in business one year and with revenue under $1 million. That fits the profile for a lot of businesses in our area. The biggest problem is people don’t know about it.”
Potts says local banks are being asked to get involved because that is where the application process begins.
“You have to do the application through a member bank that will be the small business partner,” she said. “They will act as a middle man. They will help you with the application and the member bank will let you know if you have been awarded the grant.”
Susan Ramsey says her business landed an Elevate grant after she came across some information on social media. At the time there were no area banks involved in the program so she had to shop for a sponsor.
“We clicked on a link to the Elevate grant and then just did what we had to do,” said Susan Ramsey. “It was time consuming. I got lucky. I found a bank up north that would act as my sponsor.”
Ramsey added that the process was very detailed and, as is often the case in federal funding, requires some necessary bookkeeping.
“It took some time,” she said. “You had to have proof of income, tax ID, all of that stuff. It required a very detailed description of what your business does. Why you need this money, what you will do with this money, how much you are requesting. List the cost of what you are using the money for and then once you receive the grant, you had to provide receipts showing you spent it on what you said you would.”
Jumping through those hoops and filling out the paperwork paid off for Ramsey as her business added new equipment and she picked up an additional certification with some specialized training.
“It was a huge blessing,” said Ramsey. “It was really nice. It helped us to get all new spin bikes for my spin studio. We were able to become a Cross-Fit affiliate. I was able to go to St. Louis and get my certification to be a Cross-Fit coach. We were able to purchase more squat racks for our gym, so it really helped us.”
While Ramsey had to go out of town, in recent months a number of local banks have joined FHLB to act as partners in the grants including German American Bank, First Federal Savings Bank and Old National.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for small businesses in our region,” said Potts. “I really hope more businesses take advantage of the opportunity because $20,000 is a pretty good little lump sum that could really help a small business out,”