WEDC offering grants for small businesses

Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the WEDC.

Last updated on March 19th, 2020 at 11:27 am

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is launching a $5 million targeted grant program to help businesses with no more than 20 employees that have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis cover rent and meet payroll expenses.

Called the Small Business 20/20 or SB20/20, the program will offer grants of up to $20,000 to qualifying businesses.

“Many of these businesses, especially retailers, restaurants and small service providers, typically operate on the narrowest of margins,” said WEDC chief executive officer Missy Hughes. “Many don’t have the cash reserves needed to survive a substantial loss of revenue, which can happen with a prolonged emergency.”

Hughes acknowledged the program is “just a start” and said the agency would be working to develop additional programs to get resources into communities.

To deploy the grants, WEDC plans to work with the 23 community development financial institutions in the state.

“Because the CDFIs have pre-existing relationships with many of these small businesses, CDFIs will be able to provide the grants quickly and directly to their clients,” a WEDC release announcing the program said.

The agency is encouraging CDFIs with an organizational loan portfolio of at least $4 million to participate in the program. Smaller CDFIs should work together to apply as a collaborative with a large enough portfolio, designating one organization as the lead applicant. Smaller CDFIs could also work with larger organizations to serve their clients.

WEDC said it hopes to identify participating CDFIs within two weeks. Grant applications will be made to the CDFIs, not WEDC.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for 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.