Wisconsin businesses have until Nov. 2 to apply for a second round of “We’re All In Grants.” Applications for the $5,000 grants are available on the Department of Revenue website.
Funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the program is designed to help small businesses get back on their feet as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants are available to assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements; wages and salaries; rent or mortgages; and inventory.
Launched by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the first phase of the program provided $65 million in grants for more than 26,000 businesses statewide, according to Gov. Tony Evers. He announced Oct. 6 that an additional $50 million would be invested through a second round of grants.
Seasonal and sole proprietor businesses as well as "gig workers" are eligible to apply. Those who applied for the first round of grants can apply for the second round, whether or not they received a grant in phase one.
A business must have filed a 2019 Wisconsin tax return and meet eligibility criteria, which are listed on a frequently asked questions page. More information on the program is available on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s website.
The morning it opened, Monday, Oct. 19, the site hosting the "We're All In" applications experienced technical difficulties, according to a message on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation website
"But don’t worry, the application window is open until Nov. 2," the message said.
The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center provided more than 6,400 letters of support for businesses in the first round of funding, according to Andy Donahue, director of the center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He said no official data has been released naming businesses who received grants.
Donahue and Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce President Taylor Pedersen encouraged local businesses to apply for the second round of grants, even if they received funding the first time.
Residents can also help by shopping locally.
“The more we can support our local community businesses, the longer they will thrive,” Donahue said.
The more local, the better, Pedersen said.
According to the United States Small Business Administration, studies show that for every $100 spent with small businesses, $70 cycles directly back into the local economy. Only $43 of every $100 spent with large, non-local businesses stays local.
The hospitality industry, in particular, could use a boost.
“Anything you can do to support hospitality, food, beverage-type businesses is so important right now as this business sector has been hit the hardest, continues to be at risk and will be increasingly so as winter sets in,” Pedersen said.
Safety remains key, he said. Public health procedures such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance of 6 feet, hand washing, cleaning and sanitizing are still critical to slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“By now I feel that we are all realizing this is a marathon and not a sprint,” Pedersen said.