There are many reasons to build your business in or move your business to Georgia. In 2020, Georgia was named the Top State for Doing Business and prides itself on having a government that is cooperative and responsive to the needs of small businesses. The state tries to be especially welcoming to new businesses or businesses that are looking to expand, make improvements, and create jobs and Georgia is consistently ranked among the best places to start a new business. The state even has a Small Business Development Center at the University of Georgia to help with the tools, training, business plans, and small business resources they need to succeed.
If you are a small business owner in Georgia or thinking about moving your business to Georgia, you may be curious about financial support such as grants, loans, credits, and exemptions that are available in the Peach State. The good news is that there are many forms of financial support for businesses in Georgia – including some legacy programs and others that are new as of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article summarizes many types of financial support for small businesses in the state of Georgia, including small business loans.
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Behind the scenes, Georgia encourages lenders to lend to small businesses…
Georgia lenders and financial institutions can participate in the Georgia Small Business Credit Guaranty (SBCG) program which offers a 50% credit guaranty on loans up to $400K for small businesses with fewer than 750 employees to finance expenses like start-up costs, working capital, inventory, and equipment. This program is part of the Georgia State Small Business Credit Initiative which seeks to help lenders reduce their risk and to “streamline procedures” to facilitate “quick responses to project loan requests.”
If you have a small business in Georgia, you may be looking into financing options…
Businesses in Georgia are eligible for federal loans and grants such as those through the Small Business Administration (SBA.gov). For instance, businesses in Georgia may be eligible to apply to lending programs created specifically due to coronavirus including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, EIDL loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Shuttered Venue Operator Grants for live venues, museums, and theatres, and starting in early April 2021, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Small businesses in Georgia are also eligible for Rural Business Loans and standard SBA loans.
The State of Georgia has also partnered with The Simple Dollar to help borrowers find good business credit cards and with ACE, a nonprofit community lender, to provide loans to small businesses, even tiny mom-and-pop ones. ACE administers the Georgia Green Loans initiative that helps small businesses expand eco-friendly products or services.
Micro lenders are also available in Georgia to make “small loans up to $50,000 for businesses with five or fewer employees and annual sales of less than $100,000.” The list of micro lenders in Georgia can be found here.
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The City of Atlanta has a variety of lending and funding programs tailored just for businesses in Atlanta…
Many of the programs are summarized with detailed frequently asked questions on the economic development initiative Invest Atlanta website including the:
Creative Industries Loan Fund that offers loans up to $50,000 for “local creative entrepreneurs to use for production, post-production, distribution, marketing outreach, touring, prototype development, product development and sales and attraction for their creative projects.”
Small Business Improvement Grants up to $20,000 for commercial property owners located in five key districts to make interior improvements to enhance the customer or employee experience and exterior improvements like canopies, awnings, and gates. Small businesses in the Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, and Peoplestown neighborhoods can apply for the NPU-V Small Business Improvement Program which provides grants up to $10,000 for exterior and interior improvements.
Atlanta Cares Revolving Loan Fund provides loans up to $100K to help businesses weather the impact of COVID-19.
The Atlanta Catalyst Fund provides loans up to $100K to support small businesses in distressed neighborhoods.
Atlanta Street Vendor Loan Fund provides loans up to $3,000 to licensed street vendors so that they can comply with city ordinances.
The Atlanta Forward Fund provides loans up to $20,000 for small businesses and start-up companies located within accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces in Atlanta.
The Amber Grant for Women provides $10,000 business grants to women from Georgia and across America.
Small businesses in Dekalb County are eligible for the DeKalb Better Business Loan Program which loans up to $40,000 per small business. It is primarily targeted at small businesses with less than $1 million in revenue and fewer than 20 employees. This program was created to help businesses cope with COVID and is administered by Citizens Trust Bank. Loan forgiveness is offered if funds are spent for specific purposes such as payroll.
New and Emerging Technology Businesses in Atlanta can get their city occupation taxes waived for the first three years.
Georgia supports businesses financially in ways beyond loans and grants – they also offer tax credits and exemptions to businesses!
Georgia offers generous tax credits to small businesses which can put money back into your pocket that you can invest in your business. The Job Tax Credit provides incentives for jobs created and a Quality Jobs credit for jobs that pay 10% above the average wage of the county where the job is based. Georgia also provides a tax credit to manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. All Georgia tax credits are explained in detail in this handy brochure with FAQs. Additional credits are available for businesses located inside of the capital city of Atlanta. Georgia also offers generous tax exemptions to small businesses. Distribution centers can get a discount on property tax. High tech companies can get a sales and use tax exemption on the purchase of computer equipment. These, like the tax credits, can help your business’s cash flow and save you money.