Consignment stores located in historic districts can receive $10,000 in grant funding for community impact programs. Think of how many people you can hire and train with $10,000!

Aravenda Consignment Software received this notice from our Loudon County Regional Economic Development Authority and wanted to share it with all our users – great opportunity if you are in a business zone that is a Historic District- 

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Program Description

In 2021, American Express and Main Street America created the Backing Small Businesses grant program to help under-resourced and economically vulnerable small business owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow their businesses. In its first year, the program awarded $1.65 million in grants to 330 small business owners nationwide, and in its second year the program awarded over $2.3 million in grants to an additional 350 businesses.

Now in its third year, the program will increase grants awarded and double total funding to more than $5.7 million to further support under-resourced and economically vulnerable small business owners in building their economic vitality and fostering a thriving community. In March 2024, applications will open for 500 small business grants of $10,000 to eligible businesses in the U.S. and U.S. territories.

Of the 500 recipients selected for $10,000 grants, a limited subset of 25 recipients will be awarded $30,000 Enhancement Grants, which will allow those business owners the opportunity to create transformative change within their business and in their community (for example, by giving back, partnering with community members, addressing cultural, environmental and/or access needs in their community, opening a new location and/or adding staffing). Recipients of the $10,000 grant will be required to submit a final grant report using a template provided. In addition to questions regarding the completed project, the report will include prompts on how the business would use the $30,000 Enhancement Grant. Enhancement Grant project proposals can be related to the $10,000 grant proposal or they may constitute a separate project.

Please note that project proposals for the $10,000 grant application should be feasible to complete with only the $10,000 award. The $30,000 Enhancement Grants are available only to recipients of the initial $10,000 grant who successfully complete their projects. Enhancement Grant project proposals are completed separately, through the final grant report for the initial $10,000 grant.

For a full list of FAQs and Terms, please see our program website.

What types of businesses are eligible?

Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • The applicant must be an owner of the business.
  • The applicant must be at least age 18 years or older.
  • The business must be in a “bricks-and-mortar” location and operate in an older or historic main street, downtown, or commercial district in the United States. The business must have occupied their current bricks-and-mortar location since January 1, 2024. (Home-based businesses, even those located in historic neighborhoods, are not eligible. Brick and mortar businesses located outside of historic downtowns and commercial corridors, including, but not limited to, office parks and shopping malls are also not eligible.)
  • The business must be an independent business and not part of a franchise.
  • The business must employ 20 or less full time employees.
  • The business must have been in operation on or before January 1, 2023.
  • The business must be a business entity in good standing in the state in which it was formed and the state in which it does business.
  • The business must have an active business license, if required by state or local government. (Applicants may be asked to provide documentation if selected.)

What types of grant expenses are eligible?

Eligible grant expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Accessibility Upgrades (Examples: ramp, menu translation, accessible website redesign for visually impaired people, etc.)
  • Community Events and Programs (Examples: open mic night, public educational/training workshops, hosting community fund raisers, partnerships with other small businesses)
  • Equipment and Inventory (Examples: point of sale device/software, purchasing of items for sale, display cases, kitchen equipment)
  • Marketing (Examples: investing in social media campaign, building a website, etc.)
  • Operational Strategy (Examples: branding package, accounting software, business coaching, and other types of support that would increase the viability of your business)
  • Physical Improvements (Examples: signage, awnings, painting facade, new shelving, new lighting, etc.)
  • Sustainability Upgrades (Examples: solar panels, rain garden adjacent to business, investing in reusable/compostable/recyclable packaging alternatives, etc.)
  • Technology Upgrades (Examples: building an online storefront, online ordering system, or other e-commerce platform)
  • Utilities (Note: Must not be more than $2000 or 20% of the requested funds)

Note that payroll expenses are not eligible. 

How will recipients be chosen?

Applications will be reviewed based on:


  • Proposed project must be completed with $10,000 grant by September 9, 2024.


  • What are the business’s net sales?
  • What are some of the systemic challenges the business is facing? Applicants will be asked to explain the context of the business. For example: is the business experiencing skilled staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and/or high bank loan interest rates?


  • Applicants should demonstrate both need for financial support and viability of their business to successfully make an impact with a grant. How much will a grant impact the business itself in leveraging sales, grow their customer base, or better sustain the business in some way?

Community Reach:

  • How involved is the applicant’s small business in their community? How much would the business serve a community-specific need through a grant?

Completing Your Application

Please respond to application questions in English, even if you are using a translation tool or guide to read the questions or instructional text. It should take about 20-30 minutes to complete this form. As you work through it, the application should auto-save. Please review the application questions in advance and keep a separate record of your answers, in case your work is not saved on the form prior to submission. We cannot accept changes to your application once it has been submitted, so please review it carefully. All non-public business and financial information provided in the application will be kept confidential. Finalists considered for an award may be contacted by Main Street America for additional information, including financial statements, before being selected as a recipient.

Program Timeline

  • Applications Open on 9 a.m. CT on March 14, 2024
  • Applications Close at 11:59 p.m. CT on April 7, 2024 (or once 5,000 applications have been submitted, if that occurs before April 7, so early submitting is encouraged)
  • Grant Recipients Notified by mid-June 2024
  • Grant Funds Spending Deadline at 11:59 p.m. CT on September 9, 2024.
  • Grant Reports Due by September 16, 2024

Small Business Resources

This program marks the latest effort in American Express’ “Backing Small” initiative to provide financial support and resources to independent small business owners who are serving their communities. Other Backing Small programs include Backing Historic Small Restaurants and Backing International Historical Small Restaurants. Backing Small complements American Express’ Shop Small, a global year-round effort to champion small, independent businesses.

Backing Small Businesses is one of many grant programs administered by Main Street America that are designed to enhance economic vitality and foster entrepreneurship in historic neighborhoods and commercial districts. For more information about funding opportunities through Main Street America and its partner organizations, please visit our Funding Opportunities webpage.

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For questions, email [email protected] or text/call (708) 515-4889 to leave a voice message. Please allow up to 2 business days for a response. If you encounter technical issues with the Submittable website (eg. issues with logging-in), please contact Submittable’s support services directly.