Milwaukee-based organizations received 4 of the 5 annual statewide grants given on October 1 to nonprofits that provide entrepreneurship or technical training, or business assistance to veteran entrepreneurs to improve employment outcomes.

Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Secretary-designee Mary Kolar awarded $320,000 of the $400,000 total to Milwaukee organizations. Since 2016, the WDVA’s Entrepreneurship Grant Program has provided more than $1 million in funds to organizations assisting veteran entrepreneurs. This year’s entrepreneurship grant recipients located in Milwaukee were:

Center for Veterans Issues, Ltd., Milwaukee, was awarded $100,000 for a storefront retail café. The goal of the café is to create a new approach to vocational training and employment for veterans. The organization will train veterans in all areas of employment with an emphasis in food service. The Center for Veterans Issues will credential veterans for employment and help out in placing them in established jobs within the community.

The Financial Promise, Milwaukee, was awarded $20,000 to continue the expansion of its mission of advocating for Wisconsin veterans through job training, financial literacy, business ownership and program outreach.

Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, Milwaukee, was awarded $100,000 to continue its support of veteran entrepreneurs through educational sessions and events, networking opportunities and promotional programming.

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, Milwaukee, was awarded $100,000 to provide a comfortable and effective learning environment for veteran entrepreneurs through veteran cohorts. The classes will allow the group to provide unique opportunities for veterans to network and empower one another.

“When veterans who start their own businesses succeed, everyone benefits,” Governor Evers said. “To help veteran entrepreneurs achieve their goals in Wisconsin, we must provide them with the vital tools and resources they need to prosper.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that there are about 350,000 veterans living in Wisconsin, and about half of them are of working age. About 11 percent of all businesses in the state, or 65,000, are owned by veterans, and those businesses employ more than 100,000 Wisconsinites. A recent study estimated that Wisconsin’s veteran-owned businesses account for about $20 billion in annual sales.

“Veteran entrepreneurs add value to our communities, and ensuring we support them and their success is vital to a healthy economy,” Secretary-designee Kolar said. “Military veterans bring knowledge, skills and abilities to our workforce that are unmatched. By starting their own business, veterans utilize skill sets they learned through their military service and contribute to our state.”

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Lee Matz