A new $75 million grant program for small Wisconsin businesses aims to help employers cover costs tied to the novel coronavirus pandemic and implement practices to safeguard employees and customers.
The program, announced Monday by Gov. Tony Evers, would make $2,500 cash grants available for up to 30,000 qualifying small businesses for a variety of expenditures ranging from health and safety improvements to wages, rent, mortgages and more.
“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,” Evers said in his announcement.
The new assistance is funded largely by federal dollars awarded to the state through the $2 trillion relief package called the CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in late March. The state is expected to get $2 billion total under the law.
Businesses will be able to apply for the grants as part of the "We're All In" initiative beginning in early June, Evers' office said. Recipients would need to commit to certain health and safety protocols in addition to only having a maximum of 20 full-time employees impacted by COVID-19. Businesses that have already received pandemic assistance from the state jobs agency wouldn't be eligible.
The initiative will also include $2 million in grants for ethnically diverse micro-businesses that suffered losses due to the crisis. Those Ethnic Minority Emergency Grants are targeted at sole proprietorships or businesses with five or fewer employees.
Up to 1,000 eligible businesses could receive $2,000 each under the program, per Evers' office.
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