Revitalizing Main Streets: Governor Tony Evers plans $100M investment in equitable recovery program
Governor Tony Evers announced on April 13 that a $100 million investment would be made in Wisconsin’s economic recovery, as part of the state’s funds received under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act.
The investment aims to ensure businesses and communities across Wisconsin have additional support and resources to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. The news came after the governor recently announced his plan for investing $2.5 billion of federal funding, under the American Rescue Plan, into the state’s economic recovery and well-being. Of that amount, $600 million would go toward supporting small business recovery across the state.
“Our top priority continues to be getting these funds out to folks who need it across our state so they can recover and bounce back from this pandemic,” said Governor Evers. “Many of our state’s downtowns have been hit hard as retailers, restaurants, and other Main Street businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these grants are intended to get those storefronts filled and get our downtowns humming again.”
The announcement included $50 million in Wisconsin Tomorrow – Main Street Bounceback grants, to encourage businesses in economically vital cities like Milwaukee to move into vacant storefronts downtown and other commercial corridors. The program provides $10,000 grants to new or existing businesses that move into vacant commercial properties across Wisconsin communities. The Wisconsin Tomorrow – Main Street Bounceback grants are part of Governor Evers’ commitment to invest $600 million in support for small businesses.
“Many of our state’s economic corridors – both urban and rural — are filled with empty storefronts,” said WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes. “These business closures have meant loss of employment and income for workers and business owners, decreased tax revenue for local governments, and a concerning trend for other businesses still hanging on. That’s why we’re working together to get this turned around.”
In addition, Governor Evers announced a $50 million Equitable Recovery program, primarily through grants to community partners who are doing work to eliminate disparities and promote equity and inclusion, which will be coordinated by the Department of Administration. Throughout the pandemic, racial disparities have persisted in COVID-19 health outcomes and economic impacts, exacerbating existing stark disparities experienced by underserved communities, in particular for people of color in Wisconsin.
“As I’ve said before, our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and as we work toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that equity is at the forefront,” added Governor Evers. “These dedicated funds will ensure support for many of the important work happening on the ground to advance equity and bolster those efforts.”
The Equitable Recovery program will invest in work across many of the indicators of economic well-being identified in the WEDC’s recently released Wisconsin Tomorrow 2021 report, including economic, educational, health, housing, and environmental initiatives.
Governor Evers has allocated $2.5 billion from the roughly $3.2 billion the state anticipates receiving in American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist Wisconsin’s recovery and restore economic well-being. The state continues to await federal guidance before being able to provide complete program details or open applications.