Wisconsin allocated a bigger chunk of federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act to economic development than any other state, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy.
Of the $1.1 billion Wisconsin allocated toward the economy, $363.3 million was spent on general economic development, $130 million for workforce development and $641.7 million for assistance to businesses, the study said.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Missy Hughes said the spending was deliberate by Gov. Tony Evers throughout the pandemic.
In the early days of the COVID-19 emergency, Hughes said Evers focused on using federal funds for helping small businesses survive. But as the pandemic continued, she said the governor began thinking about the long-term economic vitality of the state.
“As the governor deployed the federal dollars,” Hughes said, “he recognized that there was immediate need, and then there was, ‘What can we do to lay the groundwork for the future?'”
Two of the main programs the administration invested in were the Main Street Bounceback and Workforce Innovation grants.
The Main Street program focuses on revitalizing downtowns, while Workforce Innovation grants look for local solutions to the labor shortage.
Both programs were aimed at helping local leaders to find solutions to the problems facing their communities, Hughes said.
“It’s our job at the state-level to empower these local organizations,” she said. “The empowerment comes by trusting them, by having them demonstrate that they’re collaborating among themselves and then giving them resources and letting them run with it.”
[Adapted from: Wisconsin allocated more federal pandemic relief to the economy than any other state November 7, 2022 Wisconsin Public Radio]