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New Micro-Grant Program for Small Business Owners

By Elizabeth Phillips, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Mobile County

Hopeful small business ownerHave you thought about starting or expanding your own business, but need start-up or extra funds? The Virtual Entrepreneurship Center (VEC), an online partnership of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in cooperation with the Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Auburn University, and Tuskegee University, announces a program called the Business Start-Up and Expansion Grant. This program is designed to fund two potential needs in business: capital start-up and expansion.

Capital start-up is a micro-grant category that might assist entrepreneurs and small businesses in the capital costs to form a business, company, or organization. The second area of focus for the grants allows expansion opportunities for existing businesses to enhance current operations, or to purchase additional equipment or supplies.

What’s the catch?  The VEC wants to make you a certified expert first.

Certification-Grant Requirement

Enroll in and complete the online entrepreneurship certification program, at no charge, and then apply for a grant. The VEC certificate is beneficial in several ways and the program can be completed in less than one month. Topics include key issues and strategies in starting a business. The focus is on the development of specialized skills with knowledge relevant to successful entrepreneurship.    

The VEC’s online certificate program allows you to access online learning at any time. Individuals who have business, personal, or family obligations will find the program easy to fit into their busy schedules.  Interested participants can find more details of the program on the VEC website.

The “Grant Program” tab takes users to a comprehensive description of the certification process and leads to a link that opens an application.  The process is fast, efficient, flexible, and designed for individuals who have a limited amount of time to devote to self-training.  A combination of written materials, multimedia presentations, and related Web links help users to access an array of topics prepared and delivered by experts in the business world. 

The Business Start-Up and Expansion Grant program is managed by Extension Economic Development Specialist Dr. Roger Richardson. Questions regarding the grant and business certification process can be directed to him via e-mail at rar0006@aces.edu or by calling (256) 372-4966.

Let the Virtual Entrepreneurship Center help you with your entrepreneurship goals!