Two Milwaukee-based CDFIs awarded grants through Otto Bremer Trust’s $15 million funding round

WWBIC's Schlitz Park office.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based Otto Bremer Trust recently awarded funding to the Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. and Northwest Side Community Development Corp. as part of a nearly $15 million round of emergency grants.

The trust’s Emergency Fund, which was established in March 2020 to aid communities in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin in times of crisis, awarded $750,000 to WWBIC and $500,000 to NWSCDC. WWBIC’s grant will provide emergency capital to diverse and disadvantaged small businesses, while NWSCDC’s will support economic development and small businesses, particularly those run by entrepreneurs of color who have been impacted by the pandemic.

Since its inception, the fund previously made two rounds of grants and program-related investments totaling $13 million to more than 300 organizations in the four-state region.

This third round of grants are focused on Community Development Financial Institutions to allow them to provide patient capital to entrepreneurs and small businesses who continue to struggle due to the economic calamity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighteen CDFIs received funding in total.

Other Wisconsin-based recipients of the latest Otto Bremer’s Trust funding round include Impact Seven in Rice Lake, which received $2 million to provide flexible pass-through working capital for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and other ongoing economic challenges; and Forward Community Investments in Madison, which received $500,000 to provide grants to nonprofits that work on health equity, such as those that expand access to affordable housing, early childhood education, workforce training and health services while revitalizing neighborhoods and rural communities.

“While certain areas of our economy are growing again, many of the smallest businesses that are key to the health of our communities continue to struggle,” said Brian Lipschultz, co-chief executive officer and trustee of the OBT. “PPP loans and other forms of government assistance programs have helped. But many of those avenues have come and gone, and still the pain persists. We listened to our community members and are proud to have responded with this groundbreaking program.”

The trust, a holding company and private charitable trust based in St. Paul, was established by the Bremer Bank founder in 1944.

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Lauren Anderson is an associate editor and covers health care, nonprofits and education for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism.

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