More funding has been approved for an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) financed economic development-focused pandemic recovery grant program that has benefited thousands of small businesses and nonprofits statewide, including a Lake Geneva retail store.
Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes announced Sept. 13 that the state will provide an additional $25 million investment for the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program, bringing total investment in the program to $100 million.
To date, more than 6,200 small businesses and nonprofits across all 72 Wisconsin counties have been approved for $10,000 grants to help them move or expand into vacant commercial spaces.
Among the local grant funding recipients is the Hill Valley Dairy retail store at 510 Broad St. in Lake Geneva. Hill Valley Dairy received $10,000 in grant funding from the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program. Evers visited the store on June 2, to promote June Dairy Month and the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program.
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“We were were eligible for the Main Street Bounceback Grant because we opened up the cheese shop during the window of time that included the [COVID-19] pandemic,” said Hill Valley Dairy artisan cheesemaker Ron Henningfeld, who co-owns the business with his wife, Josie. “We were able to apply for a grant and received funds which helped us tremendously as a small business. It helped us pay rent and also hire staff and pay wages as we started up this store on one of the main streets here in Lake Geneva.”
The Main Street Bounceback Grant Program was first announced in April 2021. In May, Evers announced an additional $25 million investment to support the program due to greater-than-expected demand. The newly-announced additional $25 million investment builds on this work and will help ensure there is funding available to help a total of 10,000 small businesses and nonprofits.
“One of our top priorities for our pandemic recovery has been supporting our local communities and Main Streets through our Main Street Bounceback program, which has already helped more than 6,000 small businesses and nonprofits across our state,” Evers said. “We knew that investing in Wisconsin ingenuity and entrepreneurship would pay dividends for our state and local economies, and it certainly has. I’m proud of our work through the Main Street Bounceback program and am glad to be making an additional investment in this successful program to continue helping support small businesses in every corner of Wisconsin.”
A recent analysis of state allocations showed that as a share of federal aid received by states under the American Rescue Plan Act, Wisconsin ranks second in the country for aid directed to economic development and first in the country in aid to businesses. These investments have helped ensure the state’s successful recovery, including an unemployment rate that continues to be near or at record low numbers, increased exports of Wisconsin goods, new business openings, and attraction of new businesses from other states and expansions of existing ones.
Hughes noted that the investments the state is making through the Main Street Bounceback grants and other programs will pay long-term dividends for Wisconsin.
“We hear from community leaders everywhere that the Main Street Bounceback grants are transforming their downtowns,” she said. “It’s not just the businesses that receive the grants that are benefitting, but their neighbors tell us they see an increase in foot traffic and feel a sense of excitement as their downtowns grow.”
Funds for the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program are provided by the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The deadline for grant applications for the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program remains Dec. 31, 2022, and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until all the funds are disbursed.
WEDC is working with nine regional economic development organizations to quickly disburse grant funding to eligible businesses and nonprofit organizations.
More information about the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program and how to apply is available on the WEDC website at https://wedc.org/programs-and-resources/mainstreet-bounceback-grants/.