Message from WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes
As Wisconsin businesses reopen amid the COVID 19 pandemic, WEDC is continuing to find new ways to provide technical assistance, financial support, and other resources to our communities and small businesses.
Many businesses are drawing on our health and safety guides to make workplaces safe for employees and customers. If you haven’t seen these guides, they cover nearly every type of business, including agricultural operations, retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues, gyms and personal service providers, professional services, and more. Developed by WEDC in consultation with the Department of Health Services, Department of Children and Families, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection, and industry leaders, they’re aimed at providing actionable, real-world information that businesses can use.
The guides are just one part of our new Focus Forward website, which provides the latest information on WEDC programs and services for small businesses. In addition to details on grant programs and other assistance, the site features instructional videos, a podcast on post-pandemic recovery, and a weekly livestream on Mondays at 11 a.m. with WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes.
WEDC is also leading the state’s We’re All In initiative, which consists of financial assistance, business to business guidance, and a wider communications effort to get businesses and customers to adopt best health and safety practices. We’re All In is about showing that we’re all in this together and we’re all working together to recover.
WEDC will deploy $75 million in federal CARES funding to provide $2,500 grants to 30,000 businesses around the state impacted by COVID 19. These We’re All In Small Business Grants (WSBG) will be targeted to small businesses with up to 20 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Applications for the grants will open at 8 a.m. on June 15 and continue through 11:59 p.m. on June 21. Details on the program can be found at wedc.org/WAI-Small-Business-Grant. WEDC plans to begin issuing grants by the end of June.
As part of the grant application process, WEDC is asking businesses to submit an email or letter of acknowledgement from a community organization, including local economic development organizations, indicating that the business was in operation in February 2020. A sample letter can be found at the website above.
WEDC is also working with Wisconsin’s Collective Ethnic and Diverse Organizations to process applications for another grant program that targets ethnically diverse microbusinesses. The Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant (EMEG) program will provide $2,000 to 1,000 sole proprietorships and businesses with up to five employees, including the owner. Grant awards will be announced later this summer.
As part of the We’re All In initiative, businesses that receive either of these new grants will pledge to observe health safety best practices in their facilities to protect employees, customers and the communities in which they operate. WEDC is encouraging all businesses, large and small, to adopt behaviors that maximize safety and balance health and livelihoods, and providing tools and resources to help them do so.
To make sure you have the latest information on these and other WEDC programs, sign up on the Focus Forward website for regular alerts.