Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Cherokee Small Business Grant

CHEROKEE SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUNDING - application portal wilL be open january 16 - january 31, 2023

As our nation continues to respond to the changing and varied impacts of the pandemic, Cherokee County has again prioritized supporting small businesses by allocating $1,000,000 to the Small Business Grant Program. This funding, from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will provide financial assistance to local small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Per ARPA legislation, eligible small business will: 

  • have suffered a demonstrable negative economic impact from the pandemic; 
  • have no more than 500 employees or, if over 500 employees, meet the size standard in number of employees for the industry (NAICS code) in which the business operates; See Table of size standards ( if needed 
  • be independently owned and operated 
  • not dominant in its field of operation 

Once you have fully read this site (don’t miss our informative FAQ section at the bottom of the page), email outstanding questions to or call 770-528-4912. Please review the additional program information below to determine if your business is eligible to apply. 


Each application will be reviewed and evaluated by COED staff to ensure all eligibility requirements have been met and applications are complete.

Given the volume of applications to be reviewed, INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Each application will be reviewed in a fair and consistent manner. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to all eligible applicants submitting a complete application and meeting the criteria. Awarded businesses are referred to as “beneficiaries.”

All application documents will be collected via a secure, online platform.  The application window will be open January 16 through January 31, 2023; no submissions can be accepted once the deadline has passed.  

Funds will be allocated in two rounds: the first $500,000 granted in 2023, the remaining $500,000 granted in 2024.  If demand exceeds funds in the first round, COED will evaluate awarding additional funds during this first round.  If we receive fewer applications than available funding, we will extend the application window.   

COED will review applications as expeditiously as possible and communicate status to applicants throughout the process. 

Frequently Asked Questions on how to complete your application can be found below. Any additional questions will be answered by the COED Team at or 770-528-4912. 

Grant Tiers

There are three application tiers, based on number of employees: 

  1. If you have 1-10 (W2) employees, you are eligible to apply for up to $10,000; 
  2. If you have 11-50 (W2) employees, you are eligible to apply for up to $20,000; 
  3. If you have 51-500 (W2) employees, you are eligible to apply for up to $30,000. 

In the application process, businesses will provide information validating number of employees. Part time employees will be considered in your employee count if they work a minimum of 15 hours per week.

Eligibility Requirements

The U.S. Department of Treasury has identified two categories of eligibility for this funding:

  1. Businesses that have experienced and can demonstrate a negative economic impact due to the Coronavirus pandemic
  • If you are applying because your business has experienced a demonstrable negative economic impact from the pandemic, your application can be evaluated based on four criteria of “economic harm.” The ideal timeframes to show your economic injury will be year over year periods from 2020 to 2021 or 2021 to 2022. A business only needs to demonstrate one of these harms to satisfy eligibility:
      • DECREASED REVENUE of 10% or more annually;
      • EMPLOYEE RELATED CHALLENGES that have increased payroll costs by 10% or more or caused a 20% or greater FTE loss;
      • INCREASED COST OF GOODS of 10% or more;
      • OTHER ECONOMIC HARMS – Other negative economic impacts that fall outside of the three criteria of harm above will be considered, however the business must provide clear, measurable supporting documentation for evaluation.


    1. 2. Businesses that the Treasury has identified as having experienced a disproportionate impact and are considered “presumptively eligible” based on their location in a Qualified Census Tract (QCT) or on Tribal Lands.  In Cherokee County, this includes businesses located in Qualified Census Tracts 904.01, 906.05, and 906.06 (all of which are highlighted in purple in the map below).
      • To determine if your business is located in one of these Qualified Census Tracts, please RIGHT CLICK here to open in a new window: 2023 QCTs (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Enter your address in the upper left-hand corner and hit the GO button. You will need to make sure the Color QCT Qualified Tracts Box is checked under Map Options, at the left. Make sure to “zoom in” (+) to a 7+ level to see the tract.
      • If you are applying and your business is located in the Qualified Census Tract (QCT) area, Treasury has already validated your “economic harm” based on your location in a disproportionately impacted area. You will be required to submit documents confirming that you are a legal business, as well as your employee count.
These requirements apply to BOTH categories of eligibility one and two above:
    • Business should have no more than 500 employees or, if over 500 employees, meet the size standard in the number of employees for the industry (NAICS code) in which the business operates; See Table of size standards ( if needed 
    • Application must be complete to be considered for funding, including the required supporting documentation;  
    • Businesses should hold a valid business license issued through Cherokee County, Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Nelson, Waleska or Woodstock;  
    • Business should be current on all federal and state taxes, as well as Cherokee County and municipal taxes and fees; 
    • Business headquarters or primary location must be within Cherokee County. For purposes of this grant program, primary location is defined by having 80% of your total employee count physically located at or reporting to the Cherokee location; 
    • Business must be independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field of operation;  
    • Ineligible businesses include: gambling institutions, multi-level marketing organizations, real estate investment trusts, and adult entertainment; 
    • Applicants will be deemed ineligible if any owner is presently involved in any bankruptcy or criminal action; 
    • Applicants must not be in the process of selling their business and intend to stay in business for at least 12 months. 
    • Be a For-Profit business

Required Supporting Information

The specific documents required will be based on how you are applying, but may include:

  • Completed online digitally signed Grant Application Form and Certification Statement [ALL APPLICANTS]
  • Current Business License from Cherokee County or its municipalities [ALL APPLICANTS]
  • Business owner’s non-expired government issued picture ID [ALL APPLICANTS]
  • 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarter 2022 , GA 941 Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return (if you have employees) [ALL APPLICANTS]
  • Annual Registration from Georgia Secretary of State’s office (with the exception of sole proprietors) [ALL APPLICANTS]
  • 2019, 2020 and 2021 Business Tax Returns (Entire document); If you are a Sole Proprietor, provide Personal Tax Returns for 2019, 2020 and 2021 [Required if located in QCT or Applying Under Decreased Revenue Criteria of Harm]
  • Other documentation that supports your category of economic harm, i.e. payroll reports (required if applying under Employee Challenges), invoices/accounting system documents to support COGS losses (required if applying under Increased Cost of Goods), etc.
  • NOTE: Businesses located within Cherokee County’s Qualified Census Tracts (QCT) 904.01, 906.05 and 906.06 meet the US Department of Treasury’s “presumptively eligible” category and will have fewer required documents. To determine if your business is located in the QCT, RIGHT CLICK to open in another window here: 2023 QCTs(U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Enter your address in the box at the upper left hand corner AND check the Color QCT Qualified Tracts box AND make sure you” zoom in” (+) to a  7+ level to see the tract.


Beneficiaries will be notified of grant award status via email as expeditiously as possible. Application review will begin once the grant portal closes on January 31, 2023.  

COED intends to have a “check event” presentation for beneficiaries. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A: No, applicants are not required to register with SAM.   

A: No, this is a completely different program with a different funding source that does not have those requirements.

A: You may re-submit your application with the missing or incomplete information. Please be aware in this instance, your application will go to the “back of the line” in this first-come, first-served program. You are welcome to send us an email to to see how many applications precede you to assist in your decision to re-submit.

A: No, reimbursable expenditures are not required. The funds are distributed up front.

A: If changes need to be made, please reach out to the team at or call 770-528-4912.  

A:  You must have a current, non-expired business license from Cherokee County, Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Nelson, Waleska or Woodstock to apply.  


A: This document, filed and updated annually with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, registers you as an active business. Visit and search for your company. 

  • After you choose your company listing that indicates “Active/Compliance”, click on the button at the bottom of the page that says “Filing History”; 
  • You’ll see Annual Registration under filing type; 
  • Choose your current Annual Registration document; 
  • Save the PDF to upload with your application. 



A:  Year over year periods from March 2020 – March 2021 or March 2021 to March 2022 are ideal for these funds.

A: These funds are considered “backward-facing” and are granted based on an economic harm you’ve already experienced. As such, there are no specific required uses of the funds. Possible examples are: payroll and benefits including employee recruitment and retention bonuses, mortgage/rent and other operating costs. Each grantee will have suffered a unique economic harm and knows its own greatest need.

A: Yes. If your business has been negatively economically impacted from the pandemic and meets the other eligibility requirements, you can apply. 

A: Qualified Census Tracts or QCT’s  are designated annually by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. QCT’s have either 50% or more of the households at an income which is less than 60% of the Area Median Gross Income, or a poverty rate of at least 25%, in accordance with section 42 (d) (5) (C) of the Internal Revenue Code. 

A: If over 500 employees, check the SBA’s Table of Size Standards at this link: (RIGHT CLICK to open link in another window). You can view the table online by selecting the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations link at the center of the page or download the PDF. Search for your 6 digit NAICS code in the left column of the table, then view the number of employees in the right column. The size standard represents the largest size that a business may be to remain classified as a small business by the SBA and varies by industry.


A NAICS code (pronounced NAKES) refers to the North American Industry Classification System. It is a classification method that the federal government began for statistical analysis, but is now more widely used and identifies the industry in which a business operates. NAICS codes are not assigned, but self-selected by a company based on the code that best represents its primary business. You should find your NAICS code on your tax return as it is required by the IRS when filing. It may be referred to as a Business Activity Code on your 1120S filing or in Box B of your Schedule C of Form 1040.

A: When in your application, see the upper left hand corner immediately under your name. You have the option to Export as a PDF.

A: No, only For-Profit businesses are eligible for the Cherokee Small Business Grant.


The link to apply will be live at 8 am on Monday, January 16, 2023. The application portal will be open through Tuesday, January 31, 2023.