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Finding Government Assistance

Government grants and tax incentives are an important part of doing business; it’s never easy to find out what you can get. But it may be worth an initial investment in time

It’s tough to get money at the moment if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur. Banks have put up tough criteria for new business lending and existing customers face increasing charges for many of their loans; bottom line is banks want to see profitable businesses. But there is one source of cash that has been backing SMEs – government grants.

Tasmanian business owner John Elkerton says government grants played a “critical” role in the development of his now burgeoning business – e-health provider Healthcare Software, which has developed a clinical suite of software for hospitals to manage medications, patient referrals, discharge summaries, electronic prescribing and the like. The software takes away the ‘old school’ method of pen and paper, and streamlines communication between the hospital, community care providers and healthcare professionals. .

Elkerton’s case is probably typical of thousands of business owners who, in seeking government grants, are faced with the daunting process of applying for and securing funds. Some say it’s “exhausting”. Elkerton secured a grant from AusIndustry to be able to commercialise and take product to market.

Although the list of grants numbers in the hundreds and includes business grants available from federal, state and territory governments, including the technology-focussed Commercialising Emerging Technologies grant, the Austrade Export Market Development Grant, the Government Grant route is not for the faint hearted. It may not even be for some small businesses. In many cases the size of the grant is disproportionate to the effort in applying. There are bureaucratic processes, and an auditing function. After all, the bureaucrat needs to ensure that all our public money is handled well.

The position we take is that business owners need to ensure that the money they are going for is worth the effort. If it’s $10,000 it may not be worthwhile. In NSW for example a business can secure government funding for energy saving initiatives. Not all owners are aware of this opportunity.

EMDG (Export Marketing Development Grant) is the heartland of Austrade’s services to small business. It offers exporters 50 percent of marketing costs. Austrade helped 4,000 businesses last year, most of whom were small businesses and included architecture firms, engineering, all of which have received assistance. This is not something that’s reserved for the big end of town. Most participants report that the Austrade people hold their hands through the process. It does appear that most of Australia’s success stories in export come from small business.
More @ http://www.business.gov.au/Grantfinder/Grantfinder.aspx

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