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MKE It Back: More than 70 small business owners to get financial assistance with grant from Downtown BID

Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 launched the “MKE It Back” Grant program in February to assist downtown small businesses in their recovery from the pandemic.

More than 70 restaurants, bars, salons, barbershops, and retailers will be the recipients of the grant, bringing the total grant allocation to $250,000. Funding could be applied towards operating expenses or innovative marketing pivots in response to the pandemic.

To be eligible, the business had to be located within the geographic boundaries of Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. The business was also required to be a retailer, restaurant, bar, or personal service provider, such as a spa, salon, or dry cleaner, and be a BID #21 ratepayer or located in a BID #21 tax assessed property.

“The pandemic has hit our small businesses especially hard over the last year,” said Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. “Under the guidance of our leadership, Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 is proud to support these businesses through this difficult time. We are hopeful that these funds will help our businesses with their expenses and allow them the opportunity to make the necessary pivots to continue serving our community.”

Every small business that applied and met the criteria will receive grant funding, for a total of 72 businesses throughout the central business district.

Businesses were able to apply for grant funding from February 1 to February 16 2021. A committee of downtown stakeholders, led by Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 board member Katie Falvey of The Marcus Corporation, reviewed applications and awarded funds based on eligibility and need.

An additional $150,000 was added to the original allocation of $100,000 as unspent marketing dollars from the previous fiscal year became available, due to the cancellation of events. The leadership of Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 agreed the carryover funds would be best spent bolstering the vitality of small businesses.

“It’s been an honor to chair this committee and work with Milwaukee Downtown to help our small businesses get back on their feet,” said Katie Falvey, Vice President of Real Estate for The Marcus Corporation and Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 board member. “The MKE It Back Grant is just one of the many ways in which BID #21 supports and advocates for its businesses.”

MKE It Back Grant funds can be applied towards everything from keeping employees safe by providing PPE to payroll support, and other business expenses.

“The MKE It Back Grant is great news for small business owners like myself,” said Marc Bianchini, owner of Cubanitas and Indulge Wine Room. “These funds are a bright light at the end of the tunnel and give us the confidence to proceed with additional pivots in the coming months.”

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Lee Matz

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