The City of Racine is excited to announce that it is expanding financing options for early-stage microenterprise businesses through the Microenterprise Financial Assistance Program, or “Micro Fund”, in 2020. The Micro Fund provides up to $15,000 in low-interest loans to Racine-based owner-operated businesses with five or fewer employees.

“In 2019, the response to the Micro Fund program showed there was a real need for alternative financing for Racine’s smallest businesses,” said Mayor Cory Mason. “This program begins addressing lending disparities experienced by African-American, Hispanic, and other under-represented business owners and promises to help Racine entrepreneurs capitalize on regional business opportunities and will help them move to the next level. These businesses are critical to creating vibrant neighborhoods and ensuring economic resilience in our community.”

Five businesses were selected to be the finalist for the City’s first-ever micro-fund loan program in 2019. The program received interest from many local businesses, but also from elected leaders from around the state. The five winners were Valid Kixx, Yogi’s Pud’n, I Love Tamales, 2SwiftSuits, and Audreyanna’s.

The goal of the program is to foster business growth and economic prosperity for Racine business owners supporting low or moderate-income households. The Department of City Development expects up to $100,000 will be made available in 2020 for the Micro Fund through federal funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). Eligible businesses must have 5 or fewer employees, including the owners, and be in operation between 6 months and 3 years. The Micro Fund has fewer federal regulations than other City of Racine Small Business loan programs and supports the City’s 5 years Comprehensive Plan for economic development.

The City of Racine’s Neighborhood Services Division is accepting applications through March 2, 2020. Applications will be reviewed on a competitive basis, based in-part upon the scoring matrix included in the application materials. For application materials and program details visit https://cityofracine.org/CDV/RFP/, call (262)636.9151, or email ben.lehner@cityofracine.org. Paper copies can also be picked up directly at City Hall’s Department of City Development front desk (730 Washington Avenue, Room 102).

MICRO Fund App (final)