Evers visits Milwaukee's Dominican Center, announces grant programs

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, Oct. 5 announced two new competitive grant programs totaling $75 million to support diverse business investment in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

The pandemic has underscored – and, in some cases, even exacerbated – disparities experienced by underserved communities, in particular for people of color in Wisconsin, a news release from the governor's office said.

Evers earlier this year announced $50 million in grants to community partners working to eliminate disparities and promote equity and inclusion, bringing the governor’s total investment into promoting diversity in the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19 to $125 million.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

The governor made the announcement in Milwaukee’s Dominican Center alongside business leaders representing some of Wisconsin’s ethnic and diverse chambers of commerce.

"The diverse business assistance grant program will allow chambers and other nonprofit organizations help small businesses thrive, find new customers and improve their bottom line," said Evers.

Gov. Tony Evers announces grant funding at Milwaukee's Dominican Center.

The $75 million investment will be split into two programs: half will go to the Diverse Business Assistance Grant Program and half will go to the Diverse Business Investment Grant Program.

The Diverse Business Assistance Grant program will provide $37.5 million to support chambers of commerce and other collaboratives that provide technical assistance and other services to businesses owned by members of communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These grants will encourage more business development by these community members and ensure adequate support for them as they navigate an economy so influenced by the state of the pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers announces grant funding at Milwaukee's Dominican Center.

The Diverse Business Investment Grant program will provide an additional $37.5 million to community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to provide grants to micro-businesses with 10 or fewer employees that are owned by members of communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. These businesses have been both severely distressed by the economic effects of COVID-19 and have historically had difficulty accessing the credit and capital necessary to recover.

"For businesses with less than 10 employees it can be especially hard to get a business loan, and this will enable the business leader to grow and invest in their businesses, find stability and help them make their dreams a reality," said Evers.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android.

Ugo Nwagbaraocha, National Association of Minority Contractors' Wisconsin Chapter president, said it will help keep many doors open.

"Over 44% of diverse businesses have closed their doors during the pandemic, and some of them may not open their doors back up again," said Nwagbaraocha.

Shots fired

Shots rang out a few blocks away near 24th and Locust – just minutes before Evers was set to speak.

"Having a solid economic base is, is part of violence prevention, frankly," said Evers. "When people have equity, have wealth, have a footprint in the community that is economically based on providing services to your friends and neighbors, your friends and neighbors are providing sustenance to that business, that's what people are working together…That is a violence prevention program."

More on grant programs

In addition, Evers on Tuesday announced an open application period for the previously announced $50 million Equitable Recovery Grant program. The previously announced Equitable Recovery Grant program will provide a total of $50 million for community-based organizations working to increase equity and eliminate disparities.

The program will have two tracks, with $25 million focused on organizations providing health, early childhood, and education services or programming, and $25 million for organizations providing economic support, housing, and environmental justice services. Grants up to $1 million will be provided per eligible nonprofit organization, and applications will be accepted through Nov. 5, 2021.

Grant program criteria for the Equitable Recovery Grant program, upcoming informational webinar, and Q&A submissions are available on the program website.

All three programs are funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will be administered by the Department of Administration (DOA). Applications for the Diverse Business Assistance Grant program and the CDFI Diverse Business Investment Grant program will become available in the next few weeks.

For updates on other recovery-related grant opportunities, sign up for the Badger Bounceback update list.

World Teachers' Day amid COVID stress even more meaningful

Teachers mold future generations and touch dozens of lives on a daily basis. Tuesday, October 5 marks World Teachers' Day, a day to say thank you.

Kleefisch gubernatorial campaign: Scott Walker's son joins team

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s son has joined GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rebecca Kleefisch’s campaign.