Jeramey Jannene

Gov. Evers Announces $75 Million Investment In Minority-Owned Businesses

Two new programs will support businesses disproportionately harmed by COVID-19 pandemic.

By - Oct 5th, 2021 04:29 pm
Jericho / CC BY (

Jericho / (CC BY)

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.

The other half of the funding will go to the Diverse Business Investment Grant Program to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide grants to businesses with 10 or fewer employees that are owned by communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“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.

“This award will not solve the issue overnight,” said Marjorie Rucker, chair of the Ethnic and Diverse Business Coalition. “But this is a great start.”

“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.”

Applications for the two programs are not immediately open. The programs are intended to cover new and existing businesses. “A lot of that money that is coming in is going back into payroll,” said Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jessica Cavazos.

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.

Evers was joined at the event by a number of individuals, including Representative Kalan Haywood, City of Milwaukee community development grants administration director Steve Mahan and Wisconsin Indian Business Alliance chair Pamela Boivin.

“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.”

Categories: Business, Politics, Weekly

2 thoughts on “Gov. Evers Announces $75 Million Investment In Minority-Owned Businesses”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Republicans won’t like this. Their white supremacist base is so used yo stealing money from milwaukee.

  2. Ryan Cotic says:

    Its a great idea to help small businesses but I thought that using taxpayer dollars to discriminate against people due to the color of their skin was unconstitutional in the United States?

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us