Funding & Competitions
To secure financing for your business, start at the beginning: how much money do you need and for what?
Loudoun Innovation Challenge
The goal of the Innovation Challenge is to promote entrepreneurship and business growth by identifying and supporting companies that are developing truly innovative products and services in Loudoun County.
Types of Funding
Funding for startup and growing businesses often depends on your stage of business and the amount of money you need. The Business Owner’s Toolkit offers an overview of business financing and their Quick Pick chart identifies funding sources based on your stage of business.
You know how much money you need and the most likely funding source. Now get more information about loans, grants, and other business financial resources. Click to expand each of the sections below.
Commercial Bank Loans
Commercial bank loans don’t require entrepreneurs to turn over equity or company control. In general, banks prefer to make loans of more than $10,000. Banks like to see:
- Good personal credit
- A solid business plan
- Ability to repay the loan
Once you’ve determined that an Small Business Administration (SBA) or traditional bank loan is the right kind of financing for your business, you’ll need to package your financial information in a way that makes it easy for a banker to make a favorable decision. At the most basic level, you will need to provide:
- Basic information about your business
- Basic information about the loan you are requesting
- Financial information about your business
We highly recommend that you work with the Loudoun Small Business Development Center at MEC. The SBDC is skilled in helping business owners prepare themselves to approach funding sources.
Types of Loans
Line of Credit is an arrangement in which a bank extends a specified amount of credit to a specified borrower for a specified time period. A line of credit is best suited to help cover expenses that tend to fluctuate throughout the course of a year.
Home equity loans are a cost-effective alternative to other types of loans because they offer good interest rates available. But you may not want to risk your family home to launch your business venture.
Equipment lease financing gives you access too many types of equipment: computers, copiers, vehicles, etc. without tying up your cash or credit lines. Although it doesn’t bring in cash, leasing reduces the amount of cash you otherwise have to raise to start.
Cash advances from credit cards are an easy and quick way to gain access to cash. But as a long-term financing method, they can be expensive– credit card interest rates typically run much higher than rates you would likely pay on a bank loan.
Factoring allows a company to “sell” its accounts receivables to an outside company at a discounted rate. This allows the company to receive funds immediately to fund operations and ease cash flow. This is common for government contracts.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes. Each program will have its own eligibility criteria and application process.
- General Small Business Loans (7a)
- Microloan Program
- Real Estate & Equipment Loans: CDC/504
- Disaster Loans
The SBA even offers online courses to help business owners prepare their loan package.
Connect with approved SBA lenders using the online SBA tool LINC or contact Loudoun County’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Manager for information on the community banks in Loudoun County.
Our nation’s small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. On Friday, March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the CARES Act, which contains emergency relief resources for American workers and small businesses.
Update 3/24/2021: The U.S. Small Business Administration is increasing the maximum amount small businesses and non-profit organizations can borrow through its COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.
Starting the week of April 6, 2021, the SBA is raising the loan limit for the COVID-19 EIDL program from 6-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24-months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000.
Businesses that receive a loan subject to the current limits do not need to submit a request for an increase at this time. SBA will reach out directly via email and provide more details about how businesses can request an increase closer to the April 6 implementation date. Any new loan applications and any loans in process when the new loan limits are implemented will automatically be considered for loans covering 24 months of economic injury up to a maximum of $500,000.
This new relief builds on SBA’s previous March 12, 2021 announcement that the agency would extend deferment periods for all disaster loans, including COVID-19 EIDLs, until 2022 to offer more time for businesses to build back. In order to shift all EIDL payments to 2022, SBA will extend the first payment due date for disaster loans made in 2020 to 24-months from the date of the note and to 18-months from the date of the note for all loans made in the calendar year 2021.
View details or apply to EIDL on the SBA website.
Update 3/25/2021: The U.S. Small Business Administration extended the deadline for PPP loans to May 31, 2021.
Update 2/22/2021: Beginning on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9 a.m., the U.S. Small Business Administration will establish a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees. This will give lenders and community partners more time to work with the smallest businesses to submit their applications, while also ensuring that larger PPP-eligible businesses will still have plenty of time to apply for and receive support.
SBA also announced four additional changes to open the PPP to more underserved small businesses than ever before:
- Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants;
- Eliminate an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal;
- Eliminate PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make student loan payments by eliminating student loan debt delinquency as a disqualifier to participating in the PPP; and
- Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.
Update 1/8/2021:The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced today that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. Updated PPP guidance outlining Program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act.
This round of the PPP continues to prioritize millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021, and by allowing certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.
Key PPP updates include:
- PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs;
- PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures;
- The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
- The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
- Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and
- Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.
A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:
- Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
- Has no more than 300 employees; and
- Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.
The new guidance released includes:
- PPP Guidance from SBA Administrator Carranza on Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran, and Women-owned Business Concerns;
- Interim Final Rule on Paycheck Protection Program as Amended by Economic Aid Act; and
- Interim Final Rule on Second Draw PPP Loans.
If you have already applied for PPP, you may review the SBA’s loan details and forgiveness information.
This program provides emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19.
The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund program guide
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund sample application (SBA Form 3172)
Registration for the SBA application portal is now open:
The link above include more program details, including differences in processing timelines for priority groups. Applications will open on Monday, May 3, 2021, at noon ET.
The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund signed into law by President Joe Biden established an initial $5 billion set-aside established by Congress for applicants with gross receipts not more than $500,000. To further ensure an equitable distribution of funds, Administrator Guzman created two additional funding allocations to ensure the smallest of the small restaurants and other eating establishments have equitable access:
- $500 million for applicants with 2019 gross receipts not more than $50,000, and
- $4 billion for applicants with 2019 gross receipts between $500,000 and $1,500,000.
Designed to ensure the smallest of small eating establishments get the relief needed, set-asides continue a commitment to an equitable distribution of funds to hard-hit communities. Because SBA still has potential set-aside funding available for eligible establishments with 2019 annual revenue of not more than $50,000, it will keep the application portal open until Monday, May 24, 8 p.m. ET.
While all qualified restaurants may submit applications, more than $220 million of a $500 million set-aside remains in the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Eligible establishments that meet this revenue standard are encouraged to apply through SBA-recognized point-of-sale vendors or directly via the SBA online application portal.
Update 8/7/2021: Loudoun businesses that have not yet applied to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant have until Friday, August 20, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PT to apply for the economic relief program. The SVOG program is also accepting some applications for reconsideration and later this month, the SBA plans to open applications for supplemental funding.
To ensure no eligible venue is left behind, the SBA is currently accepting, by invitation, applications for reconsideration of award amounts and appeals. This rare opportunity gives applicants a chance to prove their eligibility and reverse a prior decision. SBA is committed to delivering relief to entertainment venues through these various options. Should the need arise, the SBA may reopen the portal or make other adjustments to its plan to best meet the needs of small businesses.
While the application portal will close to new applicants after Friday, the SBA will continue delivering economic aid to help venues recover by providing critical relief through the supplemental awards program. Later this month the SBA will open the program for supplemental SVOGs for 50% of the original award amount, capped at a total of $10 million (initial and supplemental combined). Details will be announced at a later date.
Update 4/23/2021: The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal reopens on Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 12:30 p.m. for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, museums and movie theatres, as well as live venue promoters, theatrical producers and talent representatives to apply for critical economic relief.
In preparation for the application portal reopening, the SBA recommends eligible applicants take the following actions:
- Register on the portal in advance. Applicants will need a smartphone and a multi-factor authenticator app to register and apply;
- Review the SVOG Frequently Asked Questions and Applicant User Guide; and
- Prepare required documentation, per the Application Checklist.
The SBA is accepting SVOG applications on a first-in, first-out basis and allocating applicants to respective priority periods as it receives applications. The first 14 days of SVOG awards, which are expected to begin in mid-May, will be dedicated to entities that suffered a 90% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second 14 days (days 15-28) will include entities that suffered a 70% or greater revenue loss between April and December 2020. Following those periods, SVOG awards will include entities that suffered a 25% or greater revenue loss between one quarter of 2019 and the corresponding quarter of 2020.
SBA’s resource partners, including SCORE business mentors, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, are available to provide entities with individual guidance on their applications. (Per federal grant program guidelines that require the same and equal information be provided to each applicant, SBA’s team members are limited on responses they can provide to individual, specific questions regarding SVOG eligibility, potential grant amount, or other detailed information.)
The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income.
You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative or are proposing a mid-tier value chain.
Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures, as defined in the program regulation, are eligible to apply for this program. Online applications are must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on April 29, 2021. Paper applications must be postmarked by May 4, 2021.
Update 12/29: Governor Ralph Northam allocated an additional $20 million in federal CARES Act funding to the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund to meet demand for the program and fulfill pending grant applications. This new funding will bring the program total to $120 million and will enable more than 300 small business and nonprofit organizations that applied before the last round of funding was exhausted in early December to receive grants. Eligible applicants that are still in the pipeline have been notified via email that their applications have been re-opened.
Update 12/9: Governor Ralph Northam announced that the $100 million Rebuild VA economic recovery fund has awarded grants to 2,500 Virginia businesses and nonprofits whose normal operations were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. All available funding for Rebuild VA has been fully committed.
Update 10/28: Governor Northam is directing an additional $30 million to support the expansion of the program. Businesses with less than $10 million in gross revenue or fewer than 250 employees will now be eligible under the new criteria. Previous criteria required applications to have less than $1.5 million in revenue and no more than 25 employees. The goal is to reach more businesses that fall in between that difference. Additionally, the maximum grant award will increase from $10,000 to $100,000. For more information on how to apply, or what expenses are eligible for Rebuild VA funding, please visit: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/rebuildva/
Update 9/21: Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that Rebuild VA, the $70 million economic recovery fund launched in August, is expanding its eligibility criteria to allow more small businesses to apply.
Businesses that received funding from the federal CARES Act and supply chain partners of businesses whose normal operations were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to receive grants of up to $10,000. Businesses that have received federal funds must certify that they will only use the Rebuild VA grant for recurring expenses and that the grant will not be used to cover the same expenses as the other CARES Act funds.
Rebuild VA still requires that businesses and nonprofit organizations must be in good standing, have annual gross revenues of no more than $1.5 million, and have no more than 25 employees.
Rebuild VA funding may be utilized for the following eligible expenses:
- Payroll support, including paid sick, medical, or family leave, and costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during those periods of leave;
- Employee salaries;
- Mortgage payments, rent, and utilities;
- Principal and interest payments for any business loans from national or state-chartered banking, savings and loan institutions, or credit unions, that were incurred before or during the emergency;
- Eligible personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfecting materials, or other working capital needed to address COVID-19 response.
The nonprofit Virginia 30 Day Fund was launched by Virginia technology entrepreneur Pete Snyder and his wife, Burson. Working with other business leaders throughout the Commonwealth, the Fund’s goal is to help save as many Virginia jobs as possible while small businesses await recently approved federal funding.
Virginia businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:
- Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
- Based in Virginia and have been operating for at least one year;
- Owned and operated by a Virginia resident.
To apply, please Click Here.
Worth up to $4,000 each, NASE Members can apply for small business grants. Small business grants are useful for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used their growth grants for computers, farm equipment, to hire part-time help, marketing materials, website creation and more.
Growth Grant applicants must be a NASE member in good standing for three months prior to submitting an application (annual members may apply immediately. Monthly members may apply 90 days after joining the NASE.) Read more.
The Rural Business Development Grants program is designed to provide technical assistance and training for small rural businesses. Small means that the business has fewer than 50 new workers and less than $1 million in gross revenue.
Check your business address for eligibility and learn more about the application process on the website.
USDA’s Farm Service Agency is currently accepting new and modified CFAP 2 applications.
USDA is implementing updates to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for producers of agricultural commodities marketed in 2020 who faced market disruptions due to COVID-19. This is part of a larger initiative to improve USDA pandemic assistance to producers.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) on March 24, 2021. This is part of a larger effort to reach a greater share of farming operations and improve USDA pandemic assistance. FSA has committed at least $2 million to establish partnerships and direct outreach efforts intended to improve outreach for FSA programs, including CFAP 2, and will cooperate with grassroots organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process.
CFAP updates include reopening of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), additional payments for eligible cattle and row crop producers, and the processing of payments for certain applications filed as part of CFAP Additional Assistance.
The Visit Loudoun Foundation launched the Loudoun Tourism & Hospitality Relief Fund and asks businesses and individuals contribute in support of Loudoun’s tourism industry professionals impacted by shutdowns and furloughs as a result of COVID-19.
Working in tandem with the Community Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund, the Loudoun Tourism & Hospitality Relief Fund will provide grants to charitable organizations that provide direct financial support for individuals who are working in—or have immediately formerly worked in Loudoun tourism and hospitality businesses facing hardship.
To apply, call 703-669-5040.
There are many grant opportunities available for small businesses in the federal sector. A good source to get started includes Grants.gov, a central information storehouse on more than 1,000 federal grant programs totaling approximately $500 billion in annual awards.
Small Business Innovation Research
Apply for SBIR grants if your small business will be engaged in federal R&D, with the potential for commercialization. SBIR grants are offered by agencies such as the National Institutes of Health*, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.
*If you are awarded a phase one NIH SBIR grant, you may be able to double the award amount through a Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund award.
Small Business Technology Transfer
STTR grants are designed to facilitate cooperative R&D between small businesses and U.S. research institutions, where the outcome has the potential for commercialization. If you are collaborating with a non-profit university or federal lab, you may qualify to apply for SBTT grants from federal agencies such as NASA, the Department of Education, or the Department of Health and Human Services.
For local assistance with SBIR and SBTT grants, visit the Center for Innovative Technology.
Unfortunately, most grants are for nonprofit organizations, not small businesses. Be very careful of advertisements promoting “free money for your business.” These ads can be very misleading, often suggesting that you can receive a list of many grant sources for a fee of a few hundred dollars.
Use the federal government’s free, official website, Grants.gov rather than commercial sites that may charge a fee for grant information or application forms. Grants.gov centralizes information from more than 1,000 government grant programs to help states and organizations find and apply for grants.
Other Financial Information
Angel funding and venture capital
Angels provide seed money to business startups—to the tune of tens of thousands to a million dollars or more—in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. Some angel investors come together to form angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool investment dollars.
Venture capitalists (VC), on the other hand, usually make their capital investments later in the business cycle. They exchange their investment and their expertise for a significant portion of the company’s ownership and significant control over company decisions.
Before you approach an angel investor, angel network, or VC firm, ask yourself and your partners these questions:
- Am I willing to give up some amount of ownership and control of my company?
- Can I demonstrate that my company is likely to realize significant revenues and earnings in the next three to seven years?
- Can I demonstrate that my company will produce a significant return for investors?
- Am I willing to take the advice from investors and accept board of director decisions I may not always agree with?
- Do I have an exit plan for the company that may mean I’m not involved?
You’ll need to follow those answers with a solid business plan and an executive summary that includes:
- Financial overview for at least three years out
- Sales and marketing plans
- Three-to-five year goals and your action steps to get there
- Exit strategy
SBIC works to stimulate the national economy and small businesses by supplementing the flow of private equity capital and long-term loan funds for the sound financing, growth, expansion, and modernization of small business operations while insuring the maximum participation of private financing sources.
Find a list of Virginia SBIC programs on the Small Business Administration website.
Gust provides a listing of many angel groups across the country. You can also use the site to submit your business plan for review.
The Virginia Small Business Financing Authority (VSBFA) is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s business and economic development financing arm. Aligned within Virginia’s Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, the VSBFA offers programs to provide businesses, not-for-profits, and economic development authorities with the financing needed for economic growth and expansion throughout the Commonwealth
- Industrial Development Bond Programs
- 501 (c) 3 Tax-Exempt Bond Program
- SSBCI Capital Access Program
- Loan Guaranty Program
- Cash Collateral Program
- Child Care Financing Program
- SWaM Business Microloan
- Economic Development Loan Fund
- Small Business Investment Grant Fund
For more information on these program connect with the VSBFA using their main number at: 804-371-8254
According to the SBA the most active SBA 7(A) lenders are listed here.
Many major banks have dedicated pages in regards to small business financial services. will be updated as more information becomes available: