From the October 2011 issue of Entrepreneur

An Intuit program awards grants to businesses to help spur job creation in local communities

Software developer Intuit wants you to hire local and be liked by your community, and it's ponying up a million bucks to prove it.

The company's Love a Local Business grant competition provides funding for small businesses through March 2012. Over the past 18 months, Intuit has been awarding hiring grants in $500 to $25,000 increments to U.S.-based small businesses. The company has pledged to bestow $1 million in grants over the course of the program, which runs in three-month increments.

Here's how it works: Businesses can nominate themselves, then solicit votes from customers, family, friends and others who like their business. Each vote is another chance to win. At the end of each month of the three-month contest period, one business is randomly chosen from all of the entrants in that period. At the end of the three-month period, the contest starts over with new nominees, voting and awards.

"We've given grants to about 125 different businesses," says Intuit's Laura Messerschmitt. "Some of them have used them for hiring between four and 10 employees. We've created more than 200 jobs through this program."