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Economic Development


Business Financing

The City of Cape Coral supports the goal of attracting different types of businesses in order to strengthen our local economy, balance the tax base, and continue to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors. We also encourage our existing businesses to grow and create additional jobs for today’s workforce and future generations. Federal small business loans and grants are available for business startups, expansions and relocations.

Explore Small Business & Startup Business Funding Options 


securing a small business loan   paperwork  sxTypically, banks are reluctant to offer small business startup loans. However, for over half of today’s established small businesses, commercial lenders are the preferred source of long-term small business financing.

Small business owners often cite their bank as their most important partner in financial success, second only to their accountant. Small business owners are advised to know their banker and encourage their loan or account manager to learn about their business, even before there is a need for funds. Invite your banking representative to tour your company, and share with them your business plan. Bankers are more likely to offer small business funding to companies they know, and with whom they have a track record. This may be especially important for small businesses that do not have a long credit history or are in an unusual business field that cannot easily be evaluated using traditional lending criteria.

Venture Capital

Another small business financing option is with a venture capitalist. This is different from borrowing from a lender. Instead of earning interest, the venture investor typically acquires a level of business ownership or partnership. The share of ownership may be substantial. Venture capital organizations consist of a variety of investors, such as individuals, partnerships and investment companies seeking to invest in fast-growing startups with excellent growth potential.

Venture capitalists expect two things when they invest: much higher returns than expected on a traditional business loan, and an influence in how the company is managed. One advantage of venture financing is that this infusion of capital does not typically have to be repaid.


Leasing is a method of financing capital equipment. Under a lease agreement, a business can acquire immediate use of equipment without tying up capital. Leasing can be an attractive option for obtaining technology equipment, which becomes obsolete quickly. Because leasing can be more expensive than buying equipment outright, it should be researched carefully.

Credit Cards

Personal or business credit cards issued by a bank or other financial institution can be used for small business financing in order to buy office supplies, computers, and other necessities for startup costs, but the interest rates tend to be higher than a bank loan. Personal credit card debt should be considered a short-term loan to be paid back by the business, just as if the loan had come from a bank.

Equity Loans and Personal Funds

A common source of funding for small business startups is a home equity loan. Other options are personal funds from savings, trust accounts, or some form of personal equity of the business owner or owners. These are the easiest and least expensive methods of small business financing. The limitations are the amount of capital available and the owner's willingness to put it at risk.

Personal funds also play a significant role in seeking other forms of business financing options. Just as a bank will usually not finance 100% for a new home purchase, bankers expect business borrowers to pledge their own funds to cover a portion of the financed purchase. Banks require this for two reasons: It limits the bank’s exposure in the event of default, and it demonstrates the borrower's good faith and commitment to success of the business.

Commercial Credit

The most prevalent type of small business financing is commercial credit. Commercial credit involves vendors delivering goods or performing services before payment is received. In many industries, buyers have up to 30 days after billing to pay for goods or services before the payment is considered past due, allowing businesses flexibility in managing cash flow.

Small Business Loans & Business Startup Grants

Federal, state and local governments offer a wide range of startup business funding programs to help small businesses start and grow their operations. These programs include low-interest loans, venture capital, and scientific and economic development grants.

Use the  
Loans and Grants Search Tool 
on the federal government’s website to get a list of small business and startup business financing programs for which you may qualify, or visit the resources below to learn more about small business and startup business funding programs. 

Use the following resources to find information about business financing options:

Government Business Startup Grants

Learn the truth about getting free money from the government.

Seed and Venture Capital

How to get money for high tech start-ups.

Tax-Exempt Bonds  

Learn about revenue bond financing opportunities for small manufacturers and nonprofits.

SBA Finance Programs 

Small Business Administration Loans (SBA)
The SBA is the primary advocate of small businesses within the federal government. Although it provides many services to the small business community, the SBA is best known for its small business financing loan programs. These are typically loan guarantees of between 75% to 85%, depending on the SBA's credit and eligibility standards, the loan amount and the type of loan. 

The Small Business Administration will not guarantee long-term loans without a written, formal business plan and expects business borrowers to pledge their own funds to cover a portion of the financed purchase.

Learn More about Small Business Loans, Grants, Bonds & Other Financial Assistance

Small Business Administration
(800) 8-ASK-SBA (827-5722)

SBA - 7(a) Guaranty Loan Program
This is the most common program offered by the SBA, and it is the program with which most lenders are familiar. Loan proceeds may be used for the purchase of inventory, furniture and fixtures, machinery and equipment, land for construction, building construction, leasehold improvements, real property, and working capital.

The maximum amount the SBA typically will guarantee is $1-million. Small loans up to $150,000 offer a maximum guaranty of 85 percent. Loan amounts greater than $150,000 offer a maximum guaranty of 75 percent.

Patriot Express Pilot Loan Program
The SBA’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative for veterans and members of the military community wanting to establish or expand small businesses. This is a type of 7(a) loan. Learn more

SBA - Certified Development Company (504) Loan Program
These loans are made through non-profit Certified Development Companies (CDC), which raise funds by issuing government-guaranteed debentures within their geographical area. CDC's work with the SBA and private-sector lenders to provide financing to small businesses to promote economic development and job creation or other community development goals in the CDC's area.

To be eligible, businesses must be for-profit corporations, partnerships or proprietorships. Small businesses qualify if their net worth does not exceed $7 million, and their average net income does not exceed $2.5 million after taxes for the preceding two years. The maximum loan amount that is 100 percent backed by the SBA guaranteed debenture is $1 million, limited to 40 percent of total project cost.

In our area, the CDC is the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, which serves Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry and Sarasota counties.

SBA Finance Programs 

SBA - Low Doc Loan Program
This program offers small businesses a quick way to obtain a loan of no more than $150,000 with an  85% guarantee. The streamlining of this loan allows the SBA to provide an answer within 36 hours from the time they receive the one-page application.

To be eligible, existing businesses must employ fewer than 100 employees, have average annual sales not exceeding $5 million for the preceding three years, and good personal and business credit.

SBA – Micro-Loan Program
Micro-Loans allow for up to a maximum of $35,000 for start-ups, newly established or growing small businesses. SBA provides funds to non-profit community-based lenders, allowing for loans at the local level. Terms are a maximum of 6 years and rates are determined by the lender and their cost. Most lenders will require some form of collateral from the borrower.

SBA - Express Loan Program
The Express Loan allows lenders to use and process their own forms. This allows lenders to receive a rapid response from the SBA-within 36 hours of receiving the complete application. The SBA or commercial lender in your area can tell you if your business is eligible for a SBA - Express Loan. The maximum loan is $250,000 with a 50% SBA guaranty.

SBA - CAPlines Loan Program
CAPlines loans help small businesses meet their short-term and cyclical working-capital needs. There are five types of CAPlines loans. The loan amount can reach $1.3 million, with declining guarantees. To learn more about eligibility, contact a commercial lender or the SBA.

SBA - Other Loan Programs
Additional loan programs available through the SBA:

  • Export Express – Helps small businesses develop or expand their export markets.  Provides exporters and lenders a streamlined method to obtain SBA-backed financing for loans and lines of credit up to $250,000.
  • Community Express – Allows approved SBA lenders to provide a unique combination of financial and technical assistance to borrowers located in the nation’s under-served communities.
  • Community Adjustment and Investment Program (CAIP)
  • Export Working Capital Program (EWCP)
  • International Trade Loans
  • Defense Loan and Technical Assistance (DELTA) Program
  • Pollution Control Program
  • Surety Bond Program