Milwaukee disperses $10M in COVID-19 aid for small businesses

The Milwaukee Department of City Development is dispersing $10 million to small businesses struggling to hang on through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A second round of money from the federal government, the funds are going to 800 small businesses that went through an application process and are now breathing a sigh of relief.

Bennie Smith's business -- Daddy's Soul Food -- near 27th and Wells is like many others right now, white-knuckling life since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"We needed the funds to come in because we knew that the business wasn’t going as well as we had anticipated," Smith said.

Daddy's Soul Food near 27th and Wells in Milwaukee

On average, each of the 800 recipients would receive $12,000 to $14,000. 

"We knew we had to have some funds to kind of help us out just in case because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow," said Smith.

Daddy's Soul Food near 27th and Wells in Milwaukee

The money is intended to be spent on PPE equipment, technology and supplies that help keep businesses up-and-running while staying safe -- not on payroll.

"We did $5 million in our first round. I think we wanted to make sure we were conservative and addressed needs and still be prepared for whatever was to come," Lafayette Crump, Milwaukee's city development commissioner, said. "In the second round, we are going to essentially exhaust the additional $10 million dollars we have available."

Crump said nearly 50% of all recipients are women. Also, nearly 50% are people of color.

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The aid will give Smith the boost he needs to sleep better at night.

"Each day is a new day," Smith said. "I just want everybody to be safe."

The Department of City Development will be applying for more funding and hopes to open payments up to even more businesses -- big or small.