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Fans of Small Businesses Help Them Win Intuit Grants

"Think global, love local" is the strategy underlying Intuit's innovative Love a Local Business grant program. The Mountain View, Calif., software maker has announced it will invest up to $1 million in its to help small businesses grow and make additional hires.

The grant program, which was launched last year, already has awarded more than $500,000 to 104 small businesses nationwide. Small businesses win monetary grants based on online nominations from their fans. Votes are like raffle tickets – the more votes a business has, the more chances it has to win.

Intuit randomly selects monthly winners for Intuit Hiring Grants worth $25,000; those winners become finalists eligible for the Grand Prize Intuit Hiring Grant, in which case their award is increased to $50,000. Companies do not have to be Intuit customers to enter.

Past winners have ranged from Booksmart, a bookstore in Morgan Hill, Calif., to Harmony in Hooves, a therapeutic horseback-riding facility in Benton, Ark.

The newest phase of the program began this month.

Love a Local Business provides Americans with an avenue to show their support for small businesses , said Nora Denzel, an Intuit executive.

"Hopefully, Love a Local Business inspires others who work with small businesses to pitch in to help them succeed," Denzel said.

Shana Rawlings, owner of Harmony in Hooves, is grateful for the grant her company received. "People don't realize that a few thousand dollars can go a long way when you're a small business working with a down-to-the-penny tightrope budget. As little as $5,000 could mean the addition of a temporary part-time employee or consultant," Rawlings said. "The grant enabled us to make necessary upgrades to our barn and pursue securing 501(c) 3 Non-Profit status.

"I know so many others could benefit from such an infusion of cash with no strings attached."