WEDC approves $20K grant program to help small businesses weather pandemic

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- The owners of Wisconsin's smallest businesses will soon be able to apply for grants to help see them through the coronavirus outbreak and prevent them from having to close down for good.

According to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, its Board of Directors approved Tuesday a $5 million program, dubbed Small Business 20/20, that will offer $20,000 grants to target small businesses to help them afford rent and have the money to make payroll.

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Eligible companies will need to have fewer than 20 workers on staff, it added.

“This is a program targeted at some of the ‘smallest of the small’ businesses that are vital to their communities. Many of these businesses, especially retailers, restaurants and small service providers, typically operate on the narrowest of margins,” Hughes said.

He pointed out that many of those operations rarely have enough cash on hand to handle the drop off in business that is expected as people stay home in droves to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

The WDEC explained 23 community developmental financial will help dole out the grants because, in many cases, they already have relationships with many of the small businesses. More information about the program is available here.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers called the SB20/20 program an "important first step" by the agency" and noted that his administration will be relying on the WEDC to meet the needs of the state's businesses.