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Preparing for a Regional Economic Development (RED) Grant

Business, Economic development, Government, Grant Funding

Preparation is key for RED Grant applications

The Regional Economic Development (RED) grant program invests in projects that support economic growth and job sustainability in our regions. Offered on an annual basis, it is highly competitive. Investing time in preparing for Regional Economic Development grants is critical to a strong application and can increase your chances of success.

If you’re new to grant writing (and even if you’re not) it can be hard to know where to start. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we dive into the specific steps you should take to when preparing for a Regional Economic Development grant. We’re talking here about the essential things you need to do BEFORE you even put pen to paper or engage a grant writer. But before we do, let’s briefly consider grants, and how they work.

RED Grants 101

Before preparing for a Regional Economic Development grant, it’s important to have a good handle on the basics of how grants work. A grant is an amount of money awarded to an applicant for a special purpose. In other words, the funder wants to achieve something specific as a result of the grant. Government grants are allocated to support initiatives that align with policy objectives.  In the case of the RED grant program, the state government’s aim is to create long term regional economic growth and job sustainability in the regions.

It’s important to note that a grant is not free money – it comes with specific conditions that need to be met and, if they aren’t, you could be asked to give the money back. Grants are also not retrospective. This means that you can’t buy something prior to being awarded the grant and then claim reimbursement. In addition, you will be required to report on the progress and impact of your project after receiving the funds – so be prepared!

The benefits of being well prepared

At BlueSalt Consulting, our focus is on seeing regional businesses thrive and to set clients up for success, not failure. This is why we say over and over again – invest in being well-prepared! It’s no guarantee of success, but it will strengthen your application. It also makes the grant writing process easier because you’ve done all the groundwork and you’re going into it well-prepared and confident.

This can be invaluable in terms of saving you time and resources. There’s nothing worse than investing hours into an application to find out it was rejected on a technicality. Speaking from experience – the benefits you’ll gain from being well-prepared far outweigh the time you’ll put into it.

Our six steps to preparing for a RED grant application

1. Develop a Project Plan

Preparing for a RED Grant means having a clearly defined project and developing a documented project plan. This plan should describe the project scope, objectives and deliverables, along with a project schedule and budget. This is important because it shows you have a clear and realistic idea of what you want to achieve. It also provides assurance to the grant assessor that you will use the grant money effectively and efficiently.

2. Develop a Business Plan

A business plan is an important document to have in place when preparing for Regional Economic Development grants. It describes your business, its goals, strategies, market and financial projections and demonstrates that you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. It can also help you communicate your business value proposition and potential impact.

3. Read the guidelines carefully

When preparing for RED grants, take particular note of project and business eligibility requirements. It’s also essential that you check project start and completion dates, grant objectives and assessment criteria. This can be a major pitfall for applicants and an area you can’t afford to skim over – the devil is in the detail. Better to pinpoint issues now than when you’re halfway through your application. Red flag – if you find you’re having to modify your project to suit the grant, it’s a strong sign this isn’t the right grant for you and you should look for something that is a better fit.

4. Contact the funding body

Reach out to your Development Commission to confirm you are actually eligible and get feedback on whether your project is a good fit with the grant. You can also engage the services of a grants consultant for professional advice and assistance.

5. Determine how competitive you are

This is really important. Just because you’re eligible to apply doesn’t necessarily mean your project will be a strong contender for the grant. Preparing for a Regional Economic Grant involves ensuring your project aligns well with the grant objectives, is reasonably ‘niche’ and will have a significant economic impact. If it doesn’t, it’s not worth applying. Once you’ve established this, check the guidelines again for formatting requirements and word/character limits and gather all of your supporting documentation and attachments.

6. Start Early

RED grants usually open and close within an eight week period. When preparing for a Regional Economic Development grant, this means you’ll need to factor in the time it takes to prepare and gather all supporting documentation, while still allowing lead time to write a high-quality submission or engage a grant writer.

Key takeaways

When preparing for Regional Economic Development grants, make sure that you:

  • DO clearly define your project and have a documented plan
  • DO read AND understand the grant guidelines
  • DO check your eligibility and competitiveness
  • DO gather all supporting documentation in advance
  • DON’T get caught in the urgency cycle
  • DON’T significantly modify your project to suit a grant
  • DON’T be reactive and chase after money when you’re not ready

Need help?

If you need any assistance with the planning and preparation of your grant application, reach out to our team. We’re here to help and have many years of experience in writing successful grant applications. We can support you with project plans, business plans, and grant writing. We can also review your draft application for you, offering helpful feedback and insights.

Grab our free Grant Funding Info Pack or request a quote.

For helpful tips on writing your application, check out our blog on Perfecting Your Pitch.

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