Intuit said Wednesday it plans to invest an additional $1 million in small business job creation with an expansion of its Love a Local Business hiring grant program.

The investment is a continuation of Intuit’s LALB program, which has already awarded more than $500,000 to small business nationwide. Intuit introduced the program in February of last year (see Intuit Offers Cash Grants to Small Businesses).

The program, which encourages people to nominate their favorite small business, provides grants to small business owners based on an online voting system. The new phase of LALB will kick off on June 1, and award small businesses in the towns and cities that love their local SMBs the most.

According to the Intuit Small Business Employment Index, small businesses have been leading the economic recovery by adding nearly 850,000 jobs since October 2009, equating to a 3.7 percent annual growth rate. The Index measures small business employment trends based on data from the country’s smallest small businesses that use Intuit Online Payroll. While small business job growth outpaces national employment growth by more than 1 percent, many small businesses could still use support.

"Everyone will agree that small businesses are the key to our nation’s job growth and economic recovery," said House Small Business Committee chairman Sam Graves, R-Mo., in a statement. “My colleagues and I on Capitol Hill know that we still have a long way to go. However, programs like Love a Local Business are providing valuable support to these job creators as they try to grow and invest in their businesses. As small firms and communities improve, so will our nation's economy.”

So far, Love a Local Business has infused funding into more than 100 communities. Past winners have ranged from a bookstore in Morgan Hill, Calif., BookSmart, to Harmony in Hooves, a therapeutic horseback riding facility in Benton, Arkansas. The first hiring grant winner, Christen Tranchito of Movement Matters Health & Fitness, has already put her money to work by creating four new jobs in her community of Northfield, Ohio.

Details on how to win a Love a Local Business hiring grant can be found at www.lovealocalbusiness.com. Any small business interested in learning about hiring and managing employees can also visit www.intuithire.com for free resources.

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