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On Monday, Gov. Tony Evers announced a $75 million initiative to support small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Called “We’re All In,” the program is described as “a comprehensive effort to celebrate and help Wisconsin’s small businesses get back on their feet and support best practices to keep businesses, consumers, employees, and communities safe.” The initiative will be administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC).

This initiative will be mainly funded by federal dollars received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This initiative will provide direct assistance to small businesses most impacted by the duration and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will include $2,500 cash grants (for up to 30,000 Wisconsin small businesses) to assist with business interruption or health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages, and inventory.

Businesses will be able to apply for grant assistance in early June. WEDC plans to announce details shortly.

“Wisconsinites have done an incredible job of banding together throughout this crisis, and it’s more important than ever for us to continue respecting each other, supporting each other, holding each other accountable and protecting those who are vulnerable,” Gov. Evers said in a news release. “We are still encouraging people to stay home as much as possible, practice physical distancing and good hygiene, and take protective measures like wearing a mask in public. But as more businesses continue to reopen around the state, we need to go all-in on doing this together.”

Grant recipients will become We’re All In businesses by committing to safety protocols and using them in their shops, cafes, and places to protect their customers, employees, and communities.

These grants will help businesses in the short term, and we need Wisconsinites to join our long-term economic recovery by supporting those small businesses as patrons and customers,” Gov. Evers said in a
statement. “We know that folks need to feel safe and confident as employees and consumers for this to work, so that is why we need to be all in together.”

In addition to the small business grants, the “We’re All In” initiative will include:

  • A series of guides will be provided to businesses looking to implement best practices to keep employees, customers, and communities safe throughout the COVID-19 crisis. These guides were developed in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Department of Safety and Professional Services, as well as industry leaders and public health experts throughout the state. They are found on WEDC’s website at https://wedc.org/reopen-guidelines.
  • Ethnic Minority Emergency Grants, which provide $2 million in grants for ethnically diverse Wisconsin micro-businesses that suffered losses due to the pandemic. The grants are aimed at sole proprietorships or businesses with five or fewer employees that have not received assistance under either SB 20/20 program or SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. One thousand grants of $2,000 each will be administered in partnership with Wisconsin’s 19 ethnic and minority chambers of commerce. More details are available at https://wedc.org/programs-and-resources/minority-
    business-development/.
  • An integrated public information campaign is promoting “We’re All In” businesses and social practices to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and celebrate Wisconsin’s diverse and robust economy.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.