LivingSocial, Chase Partner on Small-Business Grant Program

LivingSocial and Chase want to give up to $3 million in grants to stimulate and grow American small businesses.

Web-based daily deal finder LivingSocial and Chase, the consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., have partnered to help small and midsize businesses by participating in a grant program offering up to $3 million to business owners across the country.

The program, launched with the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will award up to 12 individual grants of $250,000. The program was developed to provide small businesses with capital and marketing resources. Grant recipients will be announced by September 15, 2012, according to a release.

Small-business owners who have been in business for at least two years and have fewer than 100 employees can visit a dedicated Website to enter the program, where they will be required to answer questions about why their business is unique, outline a proposed plan for using the grant to grow their business and describe how the business is involved with its community. The Website will also provide small-business entrants with a marketing toolkit to help promote their participation in the program.

Grant recipients will be selected by a panel of small-business experts, including Steve Case, entrepreneur and co-founder of AOL; David Chavern, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes; and representatives from Chase Business and LivingSocial. Businesses are encouraged to share information through links to their Website, YouTube, and Facebook or Twitter pages.

The purpose of the grant is to enable a small business to execute a business plan that will result in expansion and growth of the small business, including, for example, a new location, equipment, product or distribution channel. In addition to the grant, LivingSocial promises to offer the recipients the opportunity to meet with its social media and sales executives, and will work with each recipient to design a LivingSocial promotion for their business, for which LivingSocial will waive its standard commission, according to the rules of the program.

Chase has designated a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of $3 million with funds to be awarded to at least four and up to 12 small-business owners. In addition, consumers can get involved and help support their favorite small businesses by voting for them. For each pledge of support, Chase will add $5 to the grant pool, up to $3 million, and businesses must receive at least 250 votes to be considered for a grant. The voting period is open from May 7 through June 30.

"Small businesses are the economic engine of this country, and LivingSocial's goal is to help energize their connections with people seeking new and exciting experiences in their communities," Tim O'Shaughnessy, LivingSocial CEO and co-founder, said in a prepared statement. "We're proud to be supporting the 'Mission: Small Business' program to help small-business owners grow and become the next great American success stories."