Gov. Evers Announces $75 Million Investment In Minority-Owned Businesses
Two new programs will support businesses disproportionately harmed by COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Tony Evers announced a $75 million allocation Tuesday to two new competitive grant programs targeted at businesses in areas disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of the funding will go to the Diverse Business Assistance Grant program, which will back chambers of commerce and other associations that provide services to businesses owned by people of color.
“You know as well I do that Black-owned businesses took the biggest hit during the pandemic with 53% of Black business owners reporting revenue drops of 50% or more compared to 37% for their white counterparts,” said Evers. Black business ownership also dropped, according to stats cited by Evers, by 41% compared to 22% nationwide.
“For businesses with less than 10 employees, it can be especially hard to get a business loan,” said Evers.
The governor, flanked by supporters, made the announcement in a press conference at the Dominican Center, 2470 W. Locust St.
“To date we have helped more than 75,000 across the state recover, but with our announcement today we are going to be doing even more,” said Evers.
“What these financial resources mean to us is we have now the opportunity to expand our reach around the state. We have had to operate on a shoestring budget,” said Maysee Herr, executive director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. The organization is a CDFI, providing funds and technical services to businesses. “For that we are grateful.”
The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act. It builds on a $50 million ARPA allocation announced in April to the Equitable Recovery Grant program. Applications for that program, with awards of up to $1 million per eligible nonprofit, are now being accepted. Applications are due Nov. 5.
A $50 million Main Street Bounceback program, which provides grants of up to $10,000 to businesses to move or expand into vacant office or commercial space, was also part of the April announcement.
“There are a lot of people here behind me that made this all happen,” said Evers. “It’s really, really important that we view this through an equity lens and everybody bounces back better.”
The press conference’s start was delayed because of gunfire nearby and Evers, referencing a statement from Mayor Tom Barrett on Monday, said his administration is committed to violence prevention strategies. “I do know there is an absolute need for violence prevention programs in our state.”