Milwaukee County awards $11.6M in small business grants

Milwaukee County

Milwaukee County on Wednesday, Dec. 23 announced that it has awarded $11.6 million in Small Business Initiative Grant funding to 1,534 Milwaukee County small businesses.

County Executive David Crowley said more than 2,100 applications were received -- the need for relief was "heard loud and clear."

"The response to Milwaukee County’s Small Business Initiative Grant has been overwhelming," said Crowley. "Our goal is that this funding will help businesses stay afloat amid the economic challenges of this pandemic and enable entrepreneurs to operate in the safest, most sustainable way possible."

Earlier in 2020, Milwaukee County fully advocated all CARES Act funding, including by setting aside $7 million to aid businesses. Based on the outpouring of requests for that aid, an additional $5 million was re-allocated to ensure that as many Milwaukee County businesses as possible could receive relief.

"Our businesses are being asked to function under dire circumstances, and it is a priority for Milwaukee County to alleviate that burden as much as we can with the resources we have available," said Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson.

Grant funds will enable businesses to cover a number of expenses, including PPE, restocking inventory, physical space modifications to follow COVID-19 guidelines, rent or mortgage payments, payroll and utilities.

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In step with the county’s mission to address racial inequity, priority was given to businesses with a letter of support from a member of the Ethnic & Diverse Chamber Coalition -- a group of chambers of commerce supporting entrepreneurs of color, women, LGBT and veteran-owned businesses and other enterprises in historically underserved places who don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital.

"Our pursuit of racial equity will not be put on pause for the pandemic. It is crucial to invest in our marginalized communities now to secure a path forward and opportunity for continued economic growth long after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides," Crowley said.