Grant funding will allow nonprofits to open doors to entrepreneurship
GREEN BAY, WI. AUG. 31, 2022 – Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes visited the future site of Green Bay’s Public Market Wednesday morning to help two area nonprofits celebrate receiving new state grants that will allow them to build business incubator spaces, provide training, microloans and more to new entrepreneurs.
“The goal behind these grants is to make entrepreneurship a possibility for everyone,” Hughes said. “When our businesses truly serve our diverse communities, we all grow. Everyone has a stake in building our economy.”
The grants celebrated Wednesday are part of a more than $1 billion investment Governor Tony Evers has made toward economic resilience and support for small businesses and impacted industries to ensure an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Green Bay’s On Broadway, a newly announced $985,194.13 state Diverse Business Assistance grant will let the nonprofit open the doors to dozens of new businesses – literally.
The organization expects to offer more than 30 supportive business locations through their Public Market and Shipyard business incubator projects.
“The grant allows us to offer programming and access to opportunities to individuals in our community who may not have had access,” said Brian Johnson, On Broadway executive director. “We want to make sure we’re offering entrepreneurs ways to move from cottage industry to brick and mortar space.”
At Northeast Wisconsin’s Newcap Inc., a $331,565 grant will help the organization reach out to those who may not have seen themselves as entrepreneurs – including members of six Northeastern Wisconsin Native American tribes, women-owned and minority-owned startups and existing businesses, with a special focus on child care providers and teach them the business skills needed to succeed. The group works with low to middle income people to help them build skills and careers and improve their financial well-being.
“It’s providing an opportunity to help them make their dreams come true,” said Michelle Madl, vice president of asset development for Newcap. “It seems intangible or unreachable for them. This program will be able to open a window of opportunity for women and minorities and say, ‘Yes, you can.’”
Business support is integrated into two major projects that On Broadway is developing in Green Bay’s downtown: a Public Market focused around diverse food producers and educators and the Shipyard development – a nearly $8.5 million redevelopment including an outdoor event center, beach and splashpad designed to draw the community down to the Fox River. A key piece of Shipyard will be the inclusion of a container park where shipping containers will be transformed into spaces for pop-up and startup restaurants, shops and other businesses.
A goal for On Broadway is to provide ongoing support for small businesses from helping folks start their business to offering access to events such as a farmers’ market to sell, from setting up shop in a subsidized business incubator space to eventually graduating to their own commercial space, Johnson said.
He pointed to statistics that show that more Black women (17%) were in the process of setting up or running startup businesses than white women (10%) or white men (15%), according to a 2021 Harvard Business Review article. But Black women only run 3% of mature businesses.
“Sometimes they have a high failure rate,” Johnson said. “We need to close that gap.”
At Newcap, much of the focus will be on removing barriers to success for entrepreneurs, Madl said. That includes things such as training and bookkeeping help and child care, which can limit opportunities for parents who wish to start their own business. Newcap has had success working with its partners to help child care workers set up in-home child care businesses, Madl said. In addition to providing technical support for starting a business, the group helps direct the workers to the resources needed to navigate licensing, financing and more.
When successful, the project helps a child care worker become a small business owner and creates hard-to-find child care spots for others, Madl said.
Gov. Evers announced more than $86 million in investments for diverse businesses in March. On Monday, the governor announced a second round of funding with $15.7 million in grants.
The Diverse Business Assistance program was first announced in October 2021 to support equitable economic recovery statewide. The Diverse Business Assistance Grant program is administered by the Department of Administration (DOA) and funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The first round of announcements was made in March 2021.
A complete list of grant awardees and program information can be found at the program website: https://doa.wi.gov/pages/DiverseBusinessAssistance.aspx