Gov. Tony Evers announced today that 1,000 ethnically diverse micro-businesses — defined as for-profit businesses with five employees or fewer — that have suffered losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive grants of $2,000 each under a new state program.
Businesses can apply beginning May 18 at the website of one of the state’s 19 ethnic chambers of commerce or regional economic development organizations. The list of organizations is available here.
The $2 million initiative is focused on supporting ethnically diverse micro-businesses that have not received SBA Paycheck Protection Program or state disaster relief, according to a press release.
“Small businesses in our minority communities face special challenges,” Evers said in a statement. “Many have not received federal or state assistance yet because they are unbanked or don’t have the relationships to financial institutions that other businesses do. Yet these micro-businesses are often the heart and soul of their communities and an important pathway for minority entrepreneurs.”
According to the press release, businesses may apply if they:
- Are for-profit, Wisconsin-based and at least 51% minority-owned;
- Started operating prior to Jan. 1, and were operating as of Feb. 29 this year;
- Have no more than five (5) full-time equivalent employees, including the owner. Sole proprietorships are also eligible;
- Operate in the retail, service or hospitality industries; and
- Have not received any federal assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, or state aid through the Small Business 20/20 program.
The Ethnic Minority Emergency Grants will be marketed and administered in collaboration with Wisconsin’s 19 ethnic and diverse chambers of commerce, regional economic development organizations and other partners across the state.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will provide funding for the initiative.
“WEDC is committed to assisting all businesses – of every size and type — throughout Wisconsin,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “Our work with minority chambers of commerce and businesses is an opportunity to reach a critical sector of our business community.”
“The support from WEDC is a huge win for ethnic businesses in the State of Wisconsin,” said Marjorie Rucker, Executive Director of The Business Council, Inc. “Formulating partnerships with entities such as WEDC to provide grants to small ethnic businesses in the service, hospitality and retail industry during this crisis shows a real understanding and true leadership of our partners and our state leaders.”
More information about the program is available from the organizations listed in the FAQ, available here.