Northwest Side Community Development Corporation received $1.2 million in grants, which will be used to fund a new social enterprise incubator and the expansion of Athea Laboratories and Packaging.
The NWSCDC was awarded two grants from the Community Economic Development program of the Office of Community Service, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a press release.
The Community Economic Development federal grant program funds community development corporations that address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of sustainable business development and employment opportunities.
A $400,000 grant is dedicated to NWSCDC’s new social enterprise incubator, which is a program that supports the growth of local entrepreneurs and social enterprises that serve social needs in the community and create jobs through economic activity.
“For businesses that are going to participate in this incubator, there will be a lot of technical assistance, specialized mentoring and we have a number of partners that we’re talking with,” said Andrew Haug, NWSCDC resource development coordinator. “Projections, marketing, finding your niche and then figuring out what’s your path to growth.”
A total of $250,000 will be dispersed in year one of the program in the form of business loans, Haug said. However, NWSCDC anticipates leveraging additional lending funds from other sources as well, he added.
The incubator is specifically for entrepreneurs and businesses on the northwest side of Milwaukee, although outside businesses may be considered, Haug said.
“If there’s a plan for them to locate in our neighborhood, even if they’re located somewhere else right now, then we could think about working with them,” Haug said. “But the highest priority is businesses that are already here.”
Haug said there are already several Milwaukee businesses that fall under the “social enterprise category,” adding that many of those businesses may not think of themselves as social enterprises yet.
“We want to cast a broad net and say, ‘this is a resource that’s available and we think there’s a lot of community minded folks who want to have an enterprise that’s employing people, making money, but also doing good in the community,’” Haug said.
The second grant is $800,000, $100,000 of which NWSCDC will use for project coordination while the remaining $700,000 will be used for a loan to Milwaukee-based Athea Laboratories, Haug said.
Athea, which makes specialty chemicals and wet wipes, is rapidly expanding with plans to add 40 new jobs over the next three years, according to a press release. The loan will finance new equipment to increase production while a portion of the loan might be used for working capital, Haug said.
“The Athea project is exciting because it’s right in our neighborhood,” Haug said. “These are quality new jobs, located in walking distance from the Garden Homes and Rufus King neighborhoods.”
The NSCDC collaborates with a variety of businesses on economic and workforce development projects. The organization has lent over $10 million since 2000 while their partners have created over 1,000 jobs, according to a press release.
“We are working to keep growing those numbers in the community,” said Howard Snyder, executive director of NWSCDC.