By Jessica Lovay, Office Manager/Grant Administrator
Is a grant really free money? According to Wikipedia, “Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed or gifted by one party (grant makers) … In order to receive a grant, some form of ‘Grant Writing’ often referred to as either a proposal or an application is required.”
Non-repayable means the funds you receive through a grant are free and don’t have to be repaid. However, be prepared and do your homework before you begin. Receiving a grant takes a lot of prep work, regulations, special requirements and reporting.
As a community looking to participate in a federally funded grant program for an economic development project, it could take months to years to hammer out all the project details, environmental reviews and the application process. When you finally are able to put a shovel in the ground, you are up against a clock; typically there is a two year construction period depending on the grant.
While construction is going on, there are many regulations that need to be followed such as following Department of Labor’s federal wages and reports that need to be created for the federal government before you can get your funds. Over the construction period, a grant administrator could log hundreds of hours depending on how large the project is.
Consider these questions before applying:
1. Am I willing to put my project on hold for months to potentially years?
2. Do I want to jump through all the hoops and follow regulations on what I can and cannot do?
3. Does the ratio of time spent to potential grant monies make sense for my project?
It is a good idea to talk to an expert before beginning a project to see if there is funding available, and if the process is worthwhile. Grants can be scary and daunting, but the potential to double your project funds does have its allure.