There's lots for B.C. small businesses to gain by taking time to look for government grants.

I know, I know: the idea of applying for small-business government grants can drive one to drink. But there’s a great online tool to help you in your search. Read on.

Lately I've got government grants on the mind – pretty hot stuff, I know. More government forms (in addition to the ones for PST, GST, WCB and now HST) may not be your idea of a good day at work, but the idea of getting cash to help grow your business should be enough to give you pause.

We recently received our modest, but nothing to sneeze at, SR&ED cheque from the government. It’s a tax refund given to firms for scientific and technical research and development work. Last week I was made aware of a provincial government program that provides small businesses and organizations with funds to train staff to use new technologies. This latter grant will help fund a new internal project, and may also be a source of funds our clients can access to help pay for our training services. Sound interesting?

I'll be honest, as a struggling small business owner, the thought of applying for grants and funding from any government body seemed like a massive waste of time. Add to that researching what grants are available and, well, I'm inclined to perpetually leave that a "to-do" item. My own positive experiences however, led me to a great online tool to help businesses search for government grants and programs.

The following grants are applicable to a wide variety of small businesses in B.C.:

Workplace Training and Innovation Program (B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development)

Available to B.C.-based firms and organizations with fewer than 50 employees. Up to $1,500/employee (max of $5,000 per firm) for training for new skills, technologies, etc. There’s a really simple one-page application process.

Skills Link (Service Canada)

Available to those looking to hire people between the ages of 15 to 30 who face barriers to finding work such as lack of a high school diploma, disability, live in a remote area, etc. Service Canada will pay up to $25,000 of that person’s salary.

Internship Program (Industry Canada)

Government will reimburse 75% of an intern's wages for a 12-week period (to a max of $10,000) for a project that will help a firm "actively market on-line and improve their competitiveness with e-business practices and technologies."

Those are just a few of the programs available. The search tool the government provides is good at helping pull out programs that might help support your business in hiring staff, expanding overseas, creating new products. I recommend you take a look.