Program Guidelines & Application

For Fiscal Year 2024

Round 1: Open July 1 - 31, 2023
Round 2: Open October 1 - 31, 2023
Round 3: Open January 1 - 31, 2024
Round 4: Open April 1 - 30, 2024

Program Objective

The Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant Program is designed to provide financial support to established small businesses to advance and accelerate the growth and expansion of Portsmouth's entrepreneurial and small business community.

Established for-profit small businesses and non-profit organizations with operations based in the City of Portsmouth

  • Available to businesses that have been in operation for 3-7 years (as evidenced by a City of Portsmouth business license)
  • Available to businesses with 10 full-time equivalents (FTE) or fewer positions
  • Available to businesses that are current with City of Portsmouth taxes and fees
  • Entities of local, state, or federal government, religious organizations, and residential-use businesses are prohibited from applying

Additional Guidelines:

  • Recipients of the Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant may only receive funding one time under the program. No more than two grant applications may be submitted per business principal within a five-year period.
  • The Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant is a matching, reimbursement program that requires the applicant to make the initial investment for the full cost of activities; 80% of the eligible costs will be paid as a reimbursement, up to the maximum grant award.
  • Grant funds must be expended within 90 days of award
    • Purchases made and/or paid for prior to an issuance of a grant agreement will not be reimbursed
  • Grants will be awarded as reimbursement based upon certifiable business expenses (e.g. paid receipts/invoices)
  • Applicants are required to submit a Business Development Plan and a Statement of Need detailing how the grant funds will be used to advance and accelerate the growth of the business

The Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant application is a three-step process. The completed Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant application is to be submitted to Portsmouth Economic Development for review and is not considered submitted if incomplete. Completed applications (those containing all required documentation) will be reviewed to determine completion status and adherence with program guidelines.


Approval or denial of an application lies within the discretion of the Portsmouth EDA Board of Commissioners, considering factors such as the degree to which the business activities contemplated by the application further the goals of the program, the degree of the need for the funding, the level of funding requested, the amount of program funds remaining for the fiscal year, and any other factors the Board of Commissioners may deem relevant.


When an application is approved, the applicant will enter into a Grant Agreement with the Portsmouth EDA, agreeing to accept the approved grant funds. If the grantee needs to make any changes to the use of grant funds as proposed in the application, the grantee must notify Portsmouth Economic Development in writing in advance of the changes.

The Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant is funded entirely by the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority (EDA). Eligible activities are only those within these Guidelines and must directly and primarily benefit the business for which the Grant award is received. The maximum grant amount available for any approved application is $5,000.


Recipients of the Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant may only receive funding one time under the program. No more than two grant applications may be submitted per business principal within a five-year period.


Funding is available until the funding pool has been exhausted each fiscal year as appropriated. All recipients are required to enter into a Grant Agreement with the Portsmouth EDA. Recipients have 30 days to begin eligible business activities and 90 days to complete them. Extensions for an additional 90 days may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

  • Professional and third-party services to assist in expanding a business including legal, financial, accounting, marketing, social media, e-commerce, etc.
  • Small scale production/manufacturing equipment, machinery, tools, etc.
  • Technology and digital infrastructure (hardware, software, digital platforms, etc.)
  • Business furniture and fixtures
  • Wages, benefits, payroll expenses
  • Rent, debt service
  • Operating costs (utilities, insurance, etc.)
  • Real estate improvements
  • Supplies and inventory
  • Residential-use furniture
  • Decorative items (wall art, decor, etc.)

Application Process - Generalized

Step 1

Completion & submission of Smart Start Business Acceleration Application to Portsmouth Economic Development.

Step 2

Portsmouth Economic Development reviews completed application and required documentation.

Step 3

If approved, applicant enters into a Grant Agreement with the EDA. Applicant has 30 days to begin business activities and 90 days to complete them.

Application

The Grant Applicant Contact Information listed below will be used for all correspondence from Portsmouth Economic Development staff relating to this grant application.

Point of Contact for Application

The Grant Applicant Contact Information listed below will be used for all correspondence from Portsmouth Economic Development staff relating to this grant application.

Funding Requested

Please provide a brief summary of the planned business activities and a timeline of completion utilizing grant funds.

Required Documentation

All required documentation, including a complete and thorough business plan and quotes, must be submitted no later than January 31, 2024 for the application to be considered complete and submitted. Any applications received that DO NOT HAVE ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION SUBMITTED BY JANUARY 31, 2024 WILL BE DENIED.

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Declaration

By signing below, I attest that I have reviewed the details of the Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant Program Guidelines as stated above and agree to the submission of this request to the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority (EDA).

I understand and agree that all grant agreements and awards are at the sole discretion of the Portsmouth EDA Board of Commissioners and because all information furnished in connection with this application for the Smart Start Business Acceleration Grant program involves the use of public funds and as such, may be made public pursuant to the statutes of the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the City of Portsmouth.

I understand that the application is not finalized until the issuance of a grant award letter by the Portsmouth EDA authorizing the commencement of grant-funded activities.

I understand that eligible grant-funded business activities must begin no later than 30 days from the date of the issuance of a grant award letter by the Portsmouth EDA, and the deadline for completion is 90 days from the date of the issuance of a grant award letter. Applicants may request 90 day extensions. Requests for extension must be outlined in a letter directed to the Portsmouth EDA staff, the Portsmouth Economic Development Office, and will be granted on a case-by-case basis. Any subsequent extensions must be at Portsmouth EDA’s sole discretion and will require a vote of the Portsmouth EDA Board of Commissioners.

All business owners, partners, etc. must sign this application form. If the business is owned by a legal entity, organization, or corporation, the applicant must supply corporate legal documents authorizing signer. If signing on behalf of an entity, please state the entity name and your position after the signature. For questions on completing this application, please contact the Portsmouth Economic Development staff at 757.393.8804.