The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has launched a second round of “We’re All In” grants to help small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newest round of the grant program is expected to be a boost for some Kenosha County businesses, many of which have struggled with reduced revenue. Business owners have said they have seen sales drop by as much as 80%. Some have tried to make up some of their financial losses by adding new services, through gift card sales and other types of promotions.
For example, Authentique, a downtown gift boutique, created a COVID-19 kit that contained high-end personal and household products and launched a gift card campaign for customers who spent varying amounts for merchandise.
Meanwhile, others have struggled to remain open with reduced hours. Restaurant owners say they have reduced their dining space to accommodate pandemic-induced restrictions.
This summer, Kenosha County businesses received $795,000 during the first phase of the “We’re All In” grant program.
Despite the federal Coronavirus Aid and the Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds that were distributed by the WEDC earlier this year, many Wisconsin businesses continue to struggle.
In Kenosha County, some businesses received pandemic recovery grants from Downtown Kenosha Inc. and the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.
“Wisconsin small businesses have demonstrated unbelievable creativity and ingenuity in adapting to the pandemic,” WEDC secretary and chief executive officer Missy Hughes said. “But what we’re hearing from many of them is that they’re already stretched to the limit and are concerned what the next few months will hold.”
Under the newest phase of the program, the WEDC will provide $5,000 grants to 10,000 additional Wisconsin businesses. Applications will open at 8 a.m. Oct. 19 and close at 11:59 p.m. Nov. 2. The WEDC said grant awards will not be made on a first-come, first-serve basis. The grant will be disbursed by the Department of Revenue in partnership with the WEDC.
To be eligible for the second round of “We’re All In” grants, an applicant must be a Wisconsin-based, for-profit business and have had 75% or more of company labor costs and 75% of their assets in Wisconsin last year.
They must also have earned more than $0 and less than $1 million in annual revenues (gross sales and receipts) and have started operating prior to Jan. 1, 2020, and filed their 2019 taxes.
Seasonal businesses should use the highest total full-time equivalent, a measure of a worker’s involvement, for their employment during the season.
Prospective applicants should go to revenue.wi.gov or call the Wisconsin Department of Revenue at 608-266-2772.