La Crosse resumes grant program for minority, female business owners

Community Development Block Grants

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The city of La Crosse is resuming a program to help minority and female business owners start up or grow with grants up to $5,000.
The Minority Owned Business Assistance Grant Program, through the city’s Planning and Development Department, is part of the city’s efforts to address racial disparities and support businesses.
“The time is now for supporting our women and minority-owned businesses,” Mayor Tim Kabat said.
“The disparity in access to capital and other critical needs for starting a small business is real for women and people of color here in our community, and the COVID-19 pandemic makes these challenges all the more difficult,” Kabat said.
“La Crosse stands with all our business owners, especially those that are woman and minority owned,” he said.
The most recent demographic data, from 2012, shows a disparity between women and minorities in La Crosse and the percentage of businesses they own, according to the Planning and Development Department.
Minorities and women own 5% and 28% percent of businesses, respectively, in the city, while their respective population demographics are 8% and 51%, the department says.
Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency highlights another disparity — that minority-owned businesses are three times more likely to have a loan rejected.
Hud GrantsThe minority business grant program will provide eligible minorities and women with up to $5,000 to form a new business or assist in innovation and growth for current businesses.
The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds the program with Community Development Block Grant funds. It will continue as long as funds are available.
Planning and Development Department staffers and the city’s Economic Development Commission will review applications to determine eligible ones. Approved applicants are expected to use the money in conjunction with traditional financing, revenue sources or owner equity contribution to support their projects.
Applications and more information are available at the city’s website.
Applicants also can contact La Crosse program coordinator Tara Fitzgerald at (608) 789-7363 or fitzgeraldt@cityoflacrosse.org.