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Dane County announces $15 million boost to small business grant program

Dane County announces $15 million boost to small business grant program

Madame Chu

Josey Chu and her husband Ben Johnson make a batch of Madame Chu Ginger Garlic sauce at FEED Kitchens in February 2021. Chu received a total of $12,000 through two state grants and a Dane County grant. 

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Dane County’s efforts to support small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic will receive a $15 million infusion with funds from the federal stimulus legislation.  

This will be the third round of grant funding for small businesses in Dane County and will be administered by Dane Buy Local. In total, the county will have made nearly $30 million available through this program. 

“Dane County’s small businesses and their employees were hit hard by the pandemic. Businesses had to shut down, lots of times people were laid off and it’s been a struggle,” Parisi said at a virtual press conference Thursday. “There’s a lot of hope on the horizon now that we’re in the recovery phase, but folks went through a lot and will still need help getting back on their feet.”

Colin Murray, executive director of Dane Buy Local, said applications for the third round of funding are expected to open in mid-April. This round of funding will also help fill the gap of the second round of funding, which didn’t cover all the need.  

[Dane County, Madison consider priorities for federal COVID-19 relief package]

Dane County first launched the program last April with an initial $800,000 in county dollars. During the first round of funding to Dane County last year through the CARES Act, Dane Buy Local oversaw $10 million in grants.

Dane Buy Local is in the process of awarding $4 million in funds from the last county allocation to the grant program, which saw over 2,800 applications with an average grant request approaching $18,000.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on a resolution approving the additional grant funds next month.

Murray said business owners who receive this funding say that it’s a critical lifeline for their business. 

“They’ve got their heart and soul into the efforts of their local business here in Dane County and they’re watching it disappear,” Murray said. “With your leadership, we’re saving many of these local businesses.

Through the grant program, Dane County prioritized businesses owned by women and people of color. As of Thursday, Murray said 40% of the grants have been made to minority-owned businesses and 61% have supported businesses owned by women. 

“When I was approved for this last grant, it literally saved my business,” said Peggy Hanner of The Nail Bar in DeForest. 

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