Nebraska Launches Small Business Assistance Program to Boost Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth

Applications are now open for the Nebraska Small Business Assistance Act Program. Nebraska entrepreneurs may be eligible to receive funding for professional services, or for costs associated with starting or growing a new business.

Image from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development
Image from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) partnered with the GROW Nebraska Foundation to introduce a new program to support aspiring entrepreneurs and the expansion of recently established small businesses.

The Nebraska Small Business Assistance Act (NSBAA) Program is designed to provide critical benefits to qualified individuals focusing on two key aspects — funding for professional services, and grants for new and existing businesses.

The GROW Nebraska Foundation will administer the grant program on behalf of the DED. GROW Nebraska Foundation has strategic partnerships with Grow Nebraska, Grow Women’s Business Center, Nebraska Enterprise Fund and Center for Rural Affairs to ensure the program has a statewide reach.

Following a successful pilot phase, the NSBAA Program — authorized by Legislative Bill 450 in 2022 — is now fully operational with an allocated $4.2 million for program expenditures in the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

Applicants are encouraged to review eligibility criteria and submit pre-applications for program consideration on the GROW Nebraska website. Pre-applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until allocated funds are exhausted, unless renewed. 

The program operates on three tracks:

  • Provision of professional business development services only
  • Provision of new business startup and existing business expansion grants
  • Both professional services and grants

Qualified professional services include strategic planning, accounting, budgeting, tax preparation, payroll processes, website development and assistance in setting up an LLC. This component aims to equip entrepreneurs with essential tools needed for successful business operations.

Grant funds can be utilized for a range of business purposes, including startup costs, working capital, franchise fees, equipment, inventory or the purchase/renovation of a business location. New business grant applicants may receive up to $25,000, while existing business applicants could qualify for up to $12,500.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for benefits, applicants must:

  • Operate a for-profit business in Nebraska
  • Be at least 19 years old and a United States resident
  • Not own another business with 51% or more ownership
  • Meet specific criteria for each benefit track

Professional Services Criteria:

  • For-profit business with five or fewer employees
  • Operating less than five years for an existing business
  • Operating less than two years for a new business
  • Compliant with all relevant government laws

New Business Grant Eligibility Criteria:

  • For-profit business with five or fewer employees
  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $55,000 or less for the previous tax year
  • Current Net Worth (CNW), excluding the primary residence, of $200,000 or less
  • Working with a recognized service provider

Existing Business Grant Eligibility Criteria:

  • Business older than two years but not exceeding five years as of March 2023
  • Gross revenue growth of no more than 25% in the recent calendar year
  • CNW, excluding the primary residence, of $200,000 or less

Interested entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply soon before funds are exhausted. The DED website provides additional information on the Nebraska Small Business Assistance Act Program.

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