Gov. Evers announces $100M for small businesses, equity programs

MADISON, Wis. (WISC) — Wisconsin businesses struggling amid the pandemic will soon get an extra boost thanks to a business-recovery program funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday his administration plans to use $100 million in federal funds to give economic support to businesses throughout the state. The $100 million will be split evenly between two programs.

The first program will provide $10,000 grants to new or existing businesses that move into vacant commercial spaces in communities throughout the state. The grants are part of a commitment from Evers to invest $600 million in small business recovery.

“Our top priority continues to be getting these funds out to folks who need it across our state so they can recover and bounce back from this pandemic,” Evers said. “Many of our state’s downtowns have been hit hard as retailers, restaurants, and other Main Street businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these grants are intended to get those storefronts filled and get our downtowns humming again.”

The other $50 million will go toward the Equitable Recovery program that will provide grants to community partners working to “eliminate disparities and promote equity and inclusion.”

The Equitable Recovery program will invest in work across a number of initiatives, including economic, educational, health, housing and environmental efforts. Evers pointed out the need for equitable programs is more apparent than ever since the pandemic has highlighted racial disparities on a new level.

“As I’ve said before, our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and as we work toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that equity is at the forefront,” Evers said. “These dedicated funds will ensure support for many of the important work happening on the ground to advance equity and bolster those efforts.”

Evers previously announced $2.5 billion from the roughly $3.2 billion allocated to the state via the American Rescue Plan Act will go toward Wisconsin’s recovery and economic growth.