WEDC launches new entrepreneurship program

Grants targeted toward local organizations

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is launching a new grant program aimed at funding new ideas to promote entrepreneurship in the state.

The competitive $500,000  program will award grants between $10,000 and $100,000 to programs that promote entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial education, mentorship, training, business development and financial services.

In particular, the grant program is intended to fill gaps in potential funding for programs that may not be covered by WEDC’s other programs, said Aaron Hagar, WEDC vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Those gaps are small, but they do exist,” Hagar said.

He said work on the grant program started about six months ago and it isn’t in response to the latest Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation report showing low startup activity in the state.

He said the program will provide opportunities for smaller organizations like local chambers, nonprofits or industry groups to fund projects. The goal is to support projects with smaller budgets or ones put on the “back burner” after brainstorming sessions.

“Really just throwing the doors open and saying ‘show us your best ideas,’” Hagar said.

Applications are due by Oct. 31. Funding can be used for personnel, professional services and materials directly related to the project, and may not be used for land, facility costs or equipment. Projects supported by the program must take place in 2017. For more information, visit InWisconsin.com/espilot.

“The program is intended to bring new services to regions where there are still gaps, and to increase the impact of services where they are available,” Hagar said. “One common theme across research on this topic is that the strongest entrepreneurial communities are the ones that maximize connectivity among both entrepreneurs and service providers. We’re looking for projects that reflect that spirit of collaboration.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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