Helping Wisconsin’s Local Communities Bounce Back - Paycheck

Helping Wisconsin’s Local Communities Bounce Back

  • Wisconsin’s “We’re All In” plan for helping small businesses reopen
  • ForkoverFunds initiative connects donors with service workers in need 
  • What resources are available for starting your own business

Paychecks everywhere are doing what they can to help millions of small businesses that are on the brink of closure, but we simply can’t place enough to-go orders to save all of Main Street America. As COVID-19 continues to threaten supply chains across the US, we run the risk of losing local businesses to major retailers or restaurant chains who can afford to weather the pandemic.

As much as we love Applebees’ wings and Amazon prime delivery, we don’t want them to be our only options if it means losing local, community-supporting jobs. If you’ve been on lockdown and you find yourself with a little more savings and a lot more desire to help, consider putting your extra cash to work by investing in local businesses, helping those most in need, or even starting a business of your own. 

First, what is Wisconsin doing for small businesses?

Governor Evers recently announced the We’re All In grant program, “a comprehensive effort to celebrate and help Wisconsin’s small businesses get back on their feet and support best practices to keep businesses, consumers, employees and communities safe.” $75 million is being set aside for the program, and each small business can apply for a $2,500 cash grant starting in June. The state also recently announced Ethnic Minority Recovery Grants, which are $2,000 grants available to up to 1,000 ethnically diverse micro-businesses across the state.

Another important initiative the state has been working on is the Wisconsin Supplier Network, a website that connects businesses looking to reopen with local manufacturers who can make the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need in order to do so. Local businesses supporting each other is key to helping our state recover from, and thrive after, the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ways you can help those in need

While federal and state dollars are helping provide businesses with grants, taxpayers are coming together to help businesses from the ground up. Whether ordering gift cards from your favorite restaurants or donating directly to charity, there are several ways we can all help local workers in need. Forkover funds connects people “looking to fork over some funds to service industry workers currently impacted by COVID-19.” There’s the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program that provides $150 – $500 to bartenders in need. And the Artisan Grain Collaborative’s “Neighbor Loaves” initiative allows you to send a “neighbor loaf” of bread from a local baker to an organization focused on feeding communities.

What resources are available if you want to start your own business? 

If you’re looking to do even more and start your own business so we aren’t left with an imbalance of big box retailers, there are many resources available to help you get started in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has several programs for local startups, including the Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) and the Technology Development Loan program. The Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) offers programs specific to agriculture loans, financing for women and minorities, and “favorable financing for rural daycare businesses.”

The bottom line

If you’re one of the fortunate Americans who haven’t lost your job and have actually been saving money these past couple months, now is a good time to invest in local businesses or consider starting your own business to help the local economy recover.

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