The trucking industry is America’s lifeblood. Truck drivers across the country haul about 72 percent of freight by weight, which aren’t just consumer goods. It’s an industry that pays billions of state and federal highway-users taxes. So the government welcomes entrepreneurs into this industry, adding to the existing 37.9 million trucks that are registered for business purposes.
This maybe why owner-operators and trucking companies have access to funding opportunities, like transportation grants from the government and various organizations.
What must you do to qualify for transport grants?
Government Grants for Truckers
USDA Rural Business Development Grant
Grants from the USDA are intended for projects that benefit the rural areas or even towns located outside the urbanized boundaries of cities. Those areas must have a population of 50,00 or more.
To qualify, you must be:
- A rural business
- Have 50 or fewer employees
- Generate less than $1 million in gross revenue
But private businesses can’t apply directly to the USDA for trucking grants. What you can do is course your application through municipalities, nonprofit organizations, rural cooperatives and state agencies. These entities will then disburse the transportation grants for small businesses.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
For truckers who want to get government contracts, the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program provides support to entrepreneurs who are socially disadvantaged or economically deprived. So it’s not just one of many government grants for truck drivers; other entrepreneurs may also apply.
To qualify for trucking company grants:
- The entrepreneur controlling and managing the firm, full-time, must meet the SBA requirement for disadvantage, by proving social disadvantage and economic disadvantage
- The business must be majority-owned, at 51 percent or more, by one or more people
- The business must be majority-owned (51 percent or more) and controlled/managed by socially and economically disadvantaged persons
- The applicant must be an American citizen, by birth or naturalization
Other requirements to qualify for this government grant include that the business must show a potential for success, that its principals have good character and that the business must be classified as small. Truck drivers who are Native Alaskans, American Indians and Native Hawaiians follow a different set of eligibility requirements.
Transportation Grants for Small Businesses
Some grants for truckers come from the private sector. These grants aren’t limited to grants for owner operators. But they are for small businesses who may need further funding to acquire more trucks, hire more truckers and finance other operational improvements.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Much like transportation grants from the government, eligible applicants must come from communities. Priority is given to applicants who are women- and veteran-owned businesses, entrepreneurs of color, and other businesses in historically under-served places without access to flexible, affordable capital.
Some government grants for truckers or owner-operators, may not be specific to funding a business. Some provide opportunities for people who want to start a career in the basic industry as a trucker.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
The FedEx competition for business grants attracts thousands of entries. Although any for-profit enterprise qualifies, the contest favors unique and innovative businesses.
With a grant 0f up to $50,000, eligible candidates must:
- Have a FedEx shipping account number (in continuous operation for at least six months by the start of the contest)
- Have a shipping need
- Have fewer than 99 employees
Franchised or direct-seller business, as well as non-profit organizations are not eligible for the FedEx contest.
Financial Help for Truck Drivers
U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
It’s one of the federal transportation grants that gives grants to community and technical colleges. The money from the FMCSA is meant to improve and expand on programs that focus on getting veterans commercial driving licenses (CDLs) and proper endorsements. Family members of veterans who want to complete training to be truckers or commercial drivers.
St. Christopher Fund
Private organizations like St. Christopher Fund (SCF) provide several means for truckers and their families to obtain financial help. It’s not part of the trucking grants for businesses to expand, improve and sustain their operations.
The SCF helps semi-truck drivers pay their bills:
- Mortgage or Rent
How do you qualify for this financial help?
- You must have a valid Class A CDL
- You must be an over-the-road/regional semi-truck driver (500+ miles/dayl)
- You must have a medical problem
- The medical problem must first occur within the last year (from today’s date)
- The medical problem must be the cause for you being out of work
Find the Right Transportation Grants
A trucking business is vital to the U.S. economy. But it’s not always easy to get a business loan, considering all the requirements, the lengthy application period and in some cases, the high interest rates. For owner-operators or small companies with a trucking fleet, government grants for truckers provides opportunities for funding. Even better, the capital or additional funding doesn’t have to be paid off.
But not transport grants will have the same requirements for eligibility. So look through your options carefully. And pick the ones that’ll give you the best chances for grant approval.