The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has launched the “We’re all In” initiative, a program offering $75 million in grants to small businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced today.
Funded largely by federal funds received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the initiative will provide direct assistance to small businesses impacted by the duration and restrictions of the pandemic.
Through the program, small businesses will have access to $2,500 cash grants, which will assist with the cost of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.
The grants will be made available to small businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees impacted by COVID-19 that have not already received WEDC COVID-19 assistance. Up to 30,000 businesses may receive grants with applications for the program becoming available in June.
The “We’re All In” initiative also includes $2 million in Ethnic Minority Emergency Grants, which provides grants for ethnically diverse micro-businesses that have sustained financial loss due to the pandemic. One thousand grants of $2,000 each will be administered in partnership with Wisconsin’s 19 ethnic and minority chambers of commerce. Those grants are aimed at sole proprietorships or businesses with five or fewer employees that have not received assistance under either the SB 20/20 program or the U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program.
“These (‘We’re all In’ initiative) grants will help businesses in the short term, and we need Wisconsinites to join our long-term economic recovery by supporting those small businesses as patrons and customers,” Evers said in a statement. “We know that folks need to feel safe and confident as employees and consumers for this to work, so that is why we need to be all in together.”
The initiative also establishes a set of guidelines to help businesses implement best practices to keep employees, customers, and customers safe when they reopen.
“With its comprehensive approach that looks at businesses’ immediate and long-term needs, ‘We’re All In’ will provide both the ‘starter fluid’ to restart our state’s economic engine and a road map to recovery,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and chief executive officer.