New Grant Competition Aims to Jump-Start Small Business Growth Credit: Cash image via Shutterstock

Would a $250,000 grant help you take your business to the next level? If the answer is yes, and you’ve been in business at least two years and have fewer than 100 employees, a new small business grant program launched today by Chase and Living Social may be the leg up you’ve been looking for.

Called “Mission: Small Business,” the program will award up to 12 individual grants of $250,000. It was developed, the program organizers say, to provide small businesses with capital and innovative marketing resources needed to make a positive impact on their business.

Each business will be required to answer questions about why their business is unique, outline a proposed plan for utilizing the grant to grow their business and describe how the business is involved with its community. The program is open through June 30.

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"Small businesses are invaluable to the growth of our economy, and the 'Mission: Small Business' grant program is designed to provide small businesses with the solutions they need to grow and thrive," said Richard Quigley, president of Ink, Chase's business card. "The program aims to find innovative small business owners and provide them with the capital to help execute a business plan for growth."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will help announce the program and drive small business engagement and participation.

There is also a social media component to the program to determine eligibility.  Consumers can get involved by clicking the “Support” button on the program's home page and voting for their favorite registered small businesses. 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, 2012 through June 30, 2012.

Grant recipients will be selected by a panel of small business experts including Steve Case, entrepreneur and co-founder of AOL; Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes, Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo.com; David Chavem, executive vice president and chief operating officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Chase's Quigley; and Tim O'Shaughnessy, CEO and co-founder of Living Social.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.