Recovering from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic will require a coordinated effort across statewide social and economic networks. If there is one thing this crisis has taught us, it is that the health of our people and the health of our economy are interdependent. That’s why the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is being joined by communities, businesses and organizations throughout the state in encouraging Wisconsin companies and citizens to adopt the necessary practices and behaviors for our state to continue its progress toward reopening with confidence. We’re All In is a collaborative initiative built upon a rallying cry that reminds us all that when it comes to the well-being of Wisconsin, we’re all in this together.
Of course, for many businesses, surviving the health crisis boils down to cash flow, plain and simple. To help Wisconsin’s most vulnerable small businesses get back on their feet amid disruptions caused by COVID-19, WEDC quickly developed and deployed a series of financial assistance programs to complement larger federal programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program. The first of these was the Small Business 20/20 Program, which provided grants of up to $20,000 to targeted businesses with no more than 20 employees to cover rent and to meet payroll expenses, including paid leave. In order to quickly deploy these funds, WEDC worked with the state’s community development financial institutions (CDFIs)—specialized community-based financial institutions with a primary mission to promote economic development by providing financial products and services to people in communities underserved by traditional financial institutions, particularly in low-income communities. Because of the CDFIs’ preexisting relationships with targeted small businesses, they were able to provide the grant funds directly to their clients faster than otherwise would have been the case.
WEDC followed the Small Business 20/20 Program with the Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant initiative, providing 1,000 ethnically diverse Wisconsin microbusinesses grants of $2,500 each to help offset losses caused by COVID-19.
More recently, WEDC began deploying $75 million of federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act into We’re All In Small Business Grants of $2,500 each to a targeted 30,000 Wisconsin businesses, with priority given to industries and communities most affected by the pandemic.
A community of communities
All the while, WEDC was building a coalition of economic development partners, communities and businesses with a shared commitment to the state’s recovery. This “community of communities” forms the basis for a public information campaign designed to reach every person in every corner of Wisconsin, providing opportunities to actively participate in the state’s recovery efforts. Through paid media and earned media, online and physical business resources and social sharing, We’re All In will inspire us all to show our pride in making a difference and going all in for Wisconsin.
Going all in
Citizens and businesses can show their support for and participate in the We’re All In initiative by following the campaign on social media:
Wisconsinites are encouraged to capture and share images of themselves social distancing with friends or family, wearing masks and doing other things that reflect how they are keeping their communities safe from COVID-19 and to share these photos on social media with the hashtag #WeAreAllIn. Likewise, businesses are invited to take and share pictures of their safe practices aimed at helping customers, clients and employees stay healthy.
Equally important to what campaign participants are doing to maintain their own health and the well-being of their neighbors and communities is why they are doing it. These images and messages will be captured at WeAreAllInWI.com as a running tally of the commitment Wisconsin citizens are making to each other and to the state’s economic strength.
WeAreAllInWI.com also includes businesses resources, including printable signage designed to protect customers and employees by encouraging safe COVID-19 practices.
Businesses interested in developing a cooperative marketing partnership with WEDC to more fully adapt and apply We’re All In messaging within their facilities or through other marketing channels should contact WEDC Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy Kelly Lietz at firstname.lastname@example.org.