Small businesses on the road to economic recovery, still more work to do

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 1:19 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Small business owners from across the state of Wisconsin are expressing what they need to crawl out of the hole the pandemic created for them.

On Wednesday, Main Street Alliance held a listening session with Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and local business owners from across the state.

During the pandemic, more than $370 million in CARES Act funding has gone to support nearly 53,000 small business and more than 15,000 farms.

“Of those dollars, 240 million went to small businesses through WEDC’s successful We’re All In Program,” said Barnes.

Thousands of small businesses found out some additional relief is on the horizon Tuesday, with $46 million of remaining CARES Act funding going to help them out.

Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes says this is a huge boost, but he understands that it is not the “magic fix” to getting these shops back on their feet.

“We all know there’s still so much work to do, we’re no where near done with this yet,” said Barnes. “It’s not time for us to just wipe our hands and wash our hands and walk away and think that the job is done, because it’s not. We have to make sure that the economy recovers.”

Kriss Marion, owner of bed and breakfast Circle M Farm in Blanchardville, spoke about her experience during the pandemic.

Sitting on a 20-acre sheep farm in the suburbs of Lafayette County, Marion has just one part-time employee for her quaint bed and breakfast. When the pandemic hit, she had to completely shut down.

Marion just found out Tuesday that money from the We’re All In Grant will be coming her way. It’s a huge sigh of a relief for her small operation.

“We’re opening in May, but everything is outside and very different from what our operation as like before. So, we’ve had to make investments on remodels and new equipment and so that money is going to come in really handy,” said Marion.

Marion also emphasized the need to invest in broadband expansion across the state. She says especially for businesses in rural areas, no broadband means no business.

“I’ve helped five other bed & breakfasts start in this community and none of them can make it without broadband,” said Marion.

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