Select Page

More than $86M in funding awarded to support diversity of small business development in Wisconsin

Governor Tony Evers awarded more than $86 million in grants on March 21 to support small businesses in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic that have historically had difficulty accessing credit and capital.

Of the more than $86 million, $57.6 million in grants were awarded through the Diverse Business Assistance Grant Program to 24 chambers of commerce and nonprofit organizations providing assistance to small businesses.

“We’re continuing to build a strong and resilient economy that works for everyone, and that means encouraging business development in communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic and often face barriers to getting the tools and resources they need to be successful,” said Governor Evers. “By supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, these grant programs will ensure job growth, stronger communities, and a brighter, more equitable future for Wisconsin.”

The grants will support the work of chambers of commerce across the state in providing coaching and mentoring, technical assistance, equipment and internet services, digital literacy, online marketing and social media training, financial aid, and financial literacy support, as well as networking and educational opportunities for new business owners and emerging entrepreneurs.

“These grants are just a part of the funds that we need to help our businesses recover from COVID,” said Jason Rae, president and CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “If we want to raise our community out of poverty, discrimination and fear, we need to proactively bolster our business owners and help them recover and grow.”

Another $28.8 million in grants were awarded through the Diverse Business Investment Grant Program to nine Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs support micro and small businesses not only through lending and providing access to capital and credit, but many also support programs that provide additional technical assistance, coaching and mentoring, and credit counseling.

“We know that there’s a financial wealth gap in America, and we know that a great part of that financial wealth gap is tied to ethnic and diverse communities not having equitable access to business resources and funding,” Maysee Herr, executive director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. “Our staff work every day to try to bridge that gap.”

Part of a more than $1 billion investment allocated by the governor for economic resilience and support for small businesses and impacted industries, the Diverse Business Assistance and the Diverse Business Investment Grant Programs were first announced in October 2021 to support an equitable economic recovery in Wisconsin and help businesses that have been both severely distressed by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and have historically had difficulty accessing the credit and capital necessary to recover. Both programs are administered by DOA and funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“Local chambers, nonprofit organizations, CDFIs, and other organizations selected for these grants work closely with local businesses and are uniquely positioned to provide technical assistance and expertise to help diverse businesses succeed,” said Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld. “We’re proud to support these efforts and ensure that many more of our communities can experience a strong recovery.”

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January 2020. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following year, we have published hundreds of articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
For medical resources, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 page or the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. All editorial content published by Milwaukee Independent can be found at mkeind.com/COVID19. With a mission of transformative journalism, our staff is free from commercial bias and are not influenced by corporate interests, political affiliations, or a public preferences that rewards clicks with revenue. As an influential publication that provides Milwaukee with quality journalism, our award-winning photojournalism and features have helped to achieve a range of positive social impact that enriches our community. Please join our effort by entrusting us with your contribution. Your Support Matters - Donate Now

About The Author

Correspondent

Complementary news content that staff of the Milwaukee Independent have gathered from subsidiary communications sources, such as press releases or public statements, and edited for publishing.