Intuit Expands 'Love A Local Business' Grants

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA ( TheStreet) -- Intuit ( INTU) announced plans Wednesday to expand its 2-year-old initiative, "Love a Local Business," investing up to $1 million in struggling businesses.

Love a Local Business is a grant program designed to help small businesses grow and make hires. Intuit has already awarded more than $500,000 among roughly 100 businesses.

Owners can nominate businesses online and are encouraged to promote their nominations to customers. Intuit randomly selects monthly award winners, which are put into a pool for quarterly winners of up to $50,000.

Nominees do not have to be Intuit customers, the company says.

The newest phase of the program is to begin June 1.

Small-business hiring improved in April, but for the most part the sector is struggling.

And while helping small-business hiring may be a goal, there are plenty of businesses that could use the extra cash just to stay afloat.

Shelly Daniels, owner of Happy Harbor Restaurant in Deale, Md., won $4,500 as well as a host of Intuit products and services through the program in April.

"The truth is, I used it to pay some bills and carry us through a really tough winter," Daniels says. "The grant money came in very timely. We were struggling. My business is very seasonal, and winter is always slower for us, but we were coming off of a very slow summer season and so I didn't have a lot of backup to get us through the tough winter."

Daniels also made renovations to lighting in the dining room.

The money was awarded apparently in the nick of time. Daniels says her credit cards were already maxed out.

Thankfully, as the weather warms business is already picking up, she says.

"We're a very small town and the locals do carry us through the winter, but in summertime we have the boaters and fisherman and charter-fishing companies," she says.

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