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Small Business Grants In Wisconsin

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic might qualify your small business for a Wisconsin small business grant in 2022 if it experienced substantial revenue losses due to this disease. Small businesses impacted by the pandemic are eligible for federal and state government grants. 

These grants support local communities, small businesses, and families, ensuring that everyone can play a part in the development of their communities. We have collected the following resources and information to assist small businesses, assist Wisconsin communities, and alleviate the burdens on Wisconsin families as part of our effort to support small businesses. 

From a total of over $19.22 billion in federal grants and $9.56 billion of additional funding sources from local governments, the majority of the federal budget in grants is invested in Wisconsin's business sector every year since small businesses and large corporations form the backbone of the state's economic growth. A total of 111,758 business establishments are situated in Wisconsin.

What Is a Grant?

A grant is generally understood as an award from a public authority or agency to support the development of a new product, service, or project. The government does not have to guarantee that a grant will be paid back like a secured loan, which the government backs. The lack of a repayment requirement makes grant programs beneficial to small businesses.

Although applications and administration can be lengthy and time-consuming, the grant process is an important way to grow your business at a low cost. Heavy competition and grant applications can be long and difficult. If you are in the process of applying for a grant for a small business, you must show you have the necessary resources to build a successful small business and match the lending body's requirements. The local government, charitable organizations, and private foundations run various grant programs.

Wisconson Small Business Expenses

Small business management is not easy in Wisconsin, but it is also not challenging. Every year, more than $89.37 billion are paid to employee salaries and wages in Wisconsin, and more than 30,036 businesses declare bankruptcy. While the US government does not formally award grants for starting or expanding a business, in Wisconsin, some small business grants are awarded to business owners to assist in starting and expanding their businesses. These grants do not require the recipients to return the government funding. Consequently, looking into grants for small businesses makes sense if you want to fund your small business.

State Grants

The state of Wisconsin offers grant opportunities for various purposes to residents of the state. Here are a few of the Wisconsin small business grants that may be able to suit your needs in 2022. Check out this list of small business grants for 2022 to find out which may be suitable for you. 

Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery Grant 

Small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be able to receive $420 million in grants as part of Wisconsin Tomorrow's Small Business Recovery Grant program. The program was designed to help businesses hit the hardest by the pandemic and are vital to Wisconsin's recovery. Among other things, the program is overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). It is funded with funds received from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2002. As part of the grant program, each eligible applicant is eligible to receive $5,000 of the grant money.

International Market Access Grant (IMAG)

Suppose you are a business looking to improve the competitiveness of your exports and deployment strategies with the help of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. In that case, you are eligible for the $25,000 International Market Access Grant. It does not matter whether the company is headquartered in Wisconsin, as long as its operations related to exports are in that state and the company provides economic benefits to the state. Before COVID, companies had to agree to a 30 percent match of the grant funds awarded, although this requirement has temporarily been waived.

Entrepreneurial Training Program

Startup coursework is provided by the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin through the Entrepreneurial Training Program. Grants of up to $750 are available to entrepreneurs who complete the program. It is required that entrepreneurs match at least $250, and a course on business planning or business modeling must be included in the coursework.

Commercialization Micro-Grant

The Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC) in Wisconsin offers commercialization micro-grants to Wisconsin businesses whose products result from research or technology. Approximately 75% of the grant will fund the cost of hiring an independent third party to draft a business plan or commercialization strategy. A maximum of $4,500 is allowed for this grant.

Dairy Business Innovation Alliance (DBIA) Grant Program

The DBIA Grant Program may be able to provide you with funds to start your dairy farm or processor if you own a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, or South Dakota. While there was no word on how much the grant would be yet, previous recipients received as much as $250,000 through similar grants provided by DBIA. 

Applicants can start submitting their applications on January 1 and are recommended to attend the DBIA webinar series to prepare themselves for the application process.

Launch La Crosse Recovery Program

Launch La Crosse Recovery provides up to $5,000 in grants to businesses in La Crosse County. It is only open to businesses with 30 employees or fewer, and the grant aims to find new ways to reach clients. The grant is given every two weeks. A company must show that it has suffered an economic injury caused by COVID-19.

Amber Grants

The business grant is available to Wisconsin-based businesswomen. A $10,000 grant is awarded by their WomensNet judges every month so that you can apply any day. Those who are the monthly winners automatically enroll in their year-end Amber Grant competition, worth $25,000 if they qualify. So, you can create $35,000 in grant money right now just by spending a few minutes on their website.

Main Street Bounceback Program

It is still possible for small businesses in Wisconsin to receive $10,000 grants in the form of state Main Street Bounceback Program grants to help them forge ahead or expand their operations. Approximately $34 million has been distributed among more than 3,400 businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the state as of April 1, according to Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., an agency that manages the program.

The main goal of the Wisconsin Tomorrow Main Street Bounceback Grant (DBA Brick and Mortar Bounceback Program) is to provide one-time assistance to new and existing businesses who are opening new locations in vacant commercial spaces or expanding their existing operations in vacant commercial spaces.

Program Description

During the grant-giving phase, grant funds will be provided to approved entities with the ability to make grants to new businesses opening offices in vacant commercial spaces as part of a rapid response grant program. The business must submit a plan relating to leases, mortgages, operational expenses at the newly opened location, and other business costs associated with the newly opened location to receive the grant funds. Several grants are available to companies as part of the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) that provide funding to proceed with recovery efforts and the possibility of keeping a business open or expanding for a long time. As part of the contract with WEDC, approved entities will be contracted to distribute and administer these grants in their respective geographical areas within the state.

Program Eligibility

For-profit and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for the major street bounceback grants, provided they meet the following criteria:

  • The approved entity's location must be within the area where it has been allotted a resource.
  • Interested businesses must certify that they have not vacated, and won't vacate, a commercial space in Wisconsin to be eligible for this grant.

If a business falls under any of the following categories, it is ineligible to apply.

  • If the business does not belong to a national or regional chain but is owned and operated independently by a franchisee, it is part of that chain.
  • Governmental units (except tribal enterprises/corporations).
  • They will run a home-based business if they are not moving their business functions into the vacated commercial space at home.
  • The investors and companies that intend to hold the commercial or residential property for investment purposes and who have chosen to hold the property rather than otherwise qualified small business concerns who intend to occupy the purchased property.
  • It is involved in any illegal activity prohibited by federal, state, or local law.

African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin

The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin is one of the state's largest chambers of commerce and focuses on Milwaukee. In addition to helping minority-owned businesses, they offer assistance to others, but the focus is on businesses owned by people of color. They help facilitate interest-free loans of up to $15,000 and free mentorship, counseling, and networking. In addition to helping people of color succeed in the short and long term, there will also be a focus on ensuring that they receive the capital and support they need along the way.

Kiva Microloans

In addition to microloans offered throughout Wisconsin, Kiva Microloans are available in Madison and Milwaukee, among other cities. A 0% interest loan is available for small businesses up to $15,000. It has a maximum borrowing limit of $20,000 and is offered to people with good credit. Small businesses with bad credit or no credit may also be able to qualify for one of these loans. In addition, much of the funding goes to disadvantaged companies, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, veteran, and women-owned enterprises. 

Red Letter Grants

The Red Letter Grants program supports Wisconsin women-owned businesses by providing funding for their operations. Among others, non-profits also rely on community leaders, business owners, and volunteers to run smoothly. Mentoring, peer support groups, workshops, and small grants are only some of the services offered. 

Urban League of Greater Madison

Business development assistance from the Urban League of Greater Madison is being provided to companies in Madison and Dane County. It is one of the programs available to minority-owned and operated small businesses to establish a revolving loan fund. Essentially, once one borrower has sold the real estate, they can issue the funds to another small minority business. This partnership with American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact is intended to provide aid to the south side of Madison. These funds will be offered in collaboration with American Family Insurance. Minority companies can apply for loans from the Urban League up to a maximum of $20,000 and provide other financial and other assistance. 

Milwaukee Wisconsin MWBE programs

As a Kiva Trustee, the City of West Allis offers small business owners in the city the opportunity to acquire the funding (and other financial resources) they may require. With the WBIC, the city government ensures that financial aid and other resources are provided to the most qualified businesses, with a special focus on MWBE businesses. Businesses that meet certain qualification criteria can borrow up to $15,000 in financing.

Minority Grants

Throughout Wisconsin, the state has created and overseen two different grant programs to help businesses that belong to minorities, veterans, or women. The first program is called Equitable Grant Recovery, in which $75 million of funding will be allocated to assist businesses that have been affected by COVID. There is also an opportunity to obtain financial aid through a program described as the Diverse Business Assistance Grant program, which is specifically aimed at helping companies owned by people of color, such as Latino, Black, immigrant, and other ethnic groups.

Dane County Grants

The County of Dane provides small businesses with up to $15 million as part of Dane Buy Local's countywide program. CARES Act funds have been allocated to the program to provide financial assistance. As part of the project, the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation, the Latina Chamber of Commerce, and the Black Chamber of Commerce of Madison are all local partners. The program's mission is to help small businesses affected by the COVID pandemic, and the grants provide financial relief to them.

Milwaukee County Restart Grants Program

Grants are available through the Milwaukee County Restart Grant Program for small businesses run by minorities, veterans, and females. A total of $10 million will be given away in grants. The company must be owned and operated by a sole proprietor, have under 20 employees, and have a small revenue. Some grants can be applied for by small businesses and startups that have zero dollars in revenue. Several partners are involved with the initiative, including Latino Entrepreneurial Network (LERN), the Milwaukee Urban League (MUL), Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBITC), with a focus on increasing entrepreneurship and business opportunities for Black, Latino, LGBTQ and females in the city. 

Wisconsin Grant Watch

To learn more about grants and non-profits in Wisconsin, visit the Wisconsin Grant Watch website. More than 28,420 grants (that will become available in the coming days) and funding opportunities are listed in this Wisconsin Grant Directory from federal, state, and local funds across the United States and Canada.

The information they provide is only accessible with a subscription, which is also paid. For the monthly payment plan this subscription costs $18 per week, and the annual payment plan costs $199. The free membership offers limited functionality. Free members cannot view the full details of grants, nor can they apply for them.

Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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