Fund created to help La Crosse County small businesses weather COVID-19

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Several economic development organizations have partnered to create a new fund for small businesses of La Crosse County to encourage businesses to think about new ways to reach and serve customers and to help implement projects that will build resiliency in small, locally owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Couleecap, Inc., La Crosse County, Downtown Mainstreet, Inc. (DMI), City of La Crosse, and La Crosse Area Development Corporation (LADCO), announced the Launch La Crosse Small Business Resiliency Fund, which will provide grants up to $5,000 to small, locally owned retail, restaurant, or personal service businesses with 1‐20 employees located within La Crosse County.

“The City of La Crosse is proud to partner on this project. We are doing everything we can to help small businesses at this difficult time,” said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat.

The Small Business Resiliency Fund builds on the success of the Small Business Recovery Fund that was established in May and was able to provide approximately $100,000 in funding to 29 businesses over the summer to help them sustain operations.

This new effort is designed to encourage businesses to develop new, innovative ways to reach their customers and deliver their products and services in this COVID environment. It may be a restaurant that needs equipment to be able to extend the outdoor dining season or a retailer that needs to improve their presence online or on social media. The fund is looking for businesses that need a little help to adjust their business model for our current situation.

“Entrepreneurs are generally innovative and resilient, but this current environment has pushed limits. We recognize that many need a little assistance to implement projects that will help them sustain through the pandemic and into the future.” said La Crosse County Community Development Specialist, Brian Fukuda.

Applications for the fund will be reviewed biweekly by a grant committee. Awards will be made as long as funds remain available.

The La Crosse County Economic Development Fund contributed $50,000 to start this phase of funding, and private businesses and other organizations, such as the Weber Group, have come to the table to provide funds as well.

The group hopes to continue fundraising as applications come in to help as many businesses as possible.

Contributions can be made to Couleecap, Inc. and can be tax deductible.

“Many have recognized that these locally owned, small businesses provide the character of our community and want to be able to help.” said Sam Bachmeier, Economic Development Coordinator at LADCO. “Locally owned businesses provide jobs, support community events and activities, and keep profits local to multiply within our community, but many are struggling and need our support.”

For application information or to donate, visit www.couleecap.org/business-recovery. Interested individuals can also contact Couleecap Business and Income Developer, Aaron Reimler, at (608) 797-5746 or aaron.reimler@couleecap.org, or La Crosse County Community Development Specialist, Brian Fukuda, at (608) 785-5792 or bfukuda@lacrossecounty.org.