New fund created for small businesses in La Crosse County struggling due to COVID-19

Looking up could be the key to expanding downtown La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A small business recovery fund has been created for small businesses in La Crosse County struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several economic development organizations have partnered to create a new fund.

Couleecap, Inc., Downtown Mainstreet, Inc. (DMI), La Crosse County, La Crosse Area Development Corporation (LADCO), and North La Crosse Business Association (NLBA) announced the Launch La Crosse Small Business Recovery Fund, which will provide grants up to $5000 to small, locally owned retail, restaurant, or personal service storefront businesses with 1‐20 employees located in central commercial districts within La Crosse County.

In addition to grants, businesses applying to the fund will be connected to resources to aid in planning for sustainability and adjusting to new economic conditions. Resources will offer help for web-based marketing, setting up online stores, planning recovery goals and more. Couleecap, DMI, and partners will offer resources that range from one-time webinars to multi-week cohort-based educational programs that are delivered virtually by trained facilitators.

“We understand that there are many people at various levels of this growing relief infrastructure that are working to deliver financial resources to struggling small businesses,” said Couleecap Business and Income Developer, Aaron Reimler. “We also understand there is a significant need and financial gaps that will continue to remain, and that we need to be able to react quickly to those gaps as they emerge.”

Applications for the fund will be reviewed weekly by a grant committee. Awards will be made each week as long as funds remain available. “We wanted to make sure this fund is nimble and able to respond to needs quickly,” said Reimler.

“The downtowns in our communities are where commerce started, they are the center of our community, where we gather, where small local businesses thrive and make up the character and personality of our community.

Our small local businesses need our help to survive and move forward during this difficult time.” Said Downtown Mainstreet Executive Director, Robin Moses. This is a strong community that has a rich history of working together when the need arises.

“Many of us on the front line recognized the emergency funding gap for small businesses early on and have sought to create a fund that complements the ongoing efforts of the City of La Crosse, La Crosse County and the state.” We hope this program does that and is successful in keeping a very important part of our economy and recovery up and running,” said Jorge Beltran, Executive Director of LADCO.

Federal COVID-19 stimulus packages provide resources to support businesses, but these resources have had limited eligibility and high nationwide demand, preventing many smaller businesses from participating. Sole proprietors, micro-enterprises, and other small businesses may not be eligible for government assistance due to their limited size and the complex nature of the application process. The Launch La Crosse Small Business Recovery Fund is intended to fill gaps so storefront businesses in commercial districts can continue to operate.

The Fund will help businesses as they adjust to lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic even after restrictions from the Safer at Home Order are lifted. Organizers of the fund recognize that these unique circumstances will likely have lasting effects that may cause many small businesses to have to make quick, short term changes to the way they operate.

The program is being initiated with grants from Wells Fargo, Associated Bank, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and generous contributions from Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions LLC, The Weber Group, Dave and Barb Skogen, and Kwik Trip. To maintain the program, Couleecap, DMI, LADCO, and the NLBA is seeking additional donations to help build and sustain this grant fund. Privately raised funds will go directly to assisting small businesses in La Crosse County.

For application information or to donate, visit Interested individuals can also contact Couleecap Business and Income Developer, Aaron Reimler, at (608) 797-5746 or, or Downtown Mainstreet Inc. Executive Director, Robin Moses, at (608) 784-0440 or