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Gov. Evers Says $420 Million To Be Dedicated To Small Business Grants

Gov. Tony Evers
Chuck Quirmbach
/
WUWM
Gov. Tony Evers speaks at Thursday's news conference at The Ruby Tap in Wauwatosa. Co-owners Brooke Boomer (center) and Sarah Nelson (right) listen.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is starting to spell out details of the next federally-funded grants to small businesses in the state. This is money was recently approved by the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress in response to ongoing economic challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evers said he's directing up to $420 million from the American Rescue Plan go into what he's calling the Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery Grant Program.

Firms with annual gross revenue between $10,000 and $7 million will be eligible for $5,000 apiece. The state says about 84,0000 firms may potentially qualify.

The governor said at a Thursday news conference that the business community helped shape the program. "At the end of the day, we felt as we had input back from businesses that thought the $5,000 was very, very helpful. So, that's the number we stayed with," he said.

Evers cautioned that the state is still waiting for federal rules for the American Rescue Plan to be put in place. So, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and State Department of Revenue won't have Wisconsin Tomorrow going for a few weeks.

The Democratic governor also announced yesterday that he's vetoed several legislative bills that would have given Republican lawmakers some say-so over use of the federal money, including the GOP's desire for a smaller, small business grant program of $200 million.

"Folks, that simply won't cut it. We know our main streets have been hit hard during this pandemic and it's important to me, and the businesses of our state, that we can bounce back," Evers said.

A Republican co-chair of the legislature's Joint Committee on Finance, Rep. Mark Born, responded, “It's unfortunate that Gov. Evers has continued his go-it-alone approach."

Evers said businesses that received a pandemic-related grant last year under the federal CARES Act can apply for the Wisconsin Tomorrow money.

That's good news to a co-owner of the Wauwatosa wine bar where Evers held his news event. Brooke Boomer of The Ruby Tap said the $5,000 in CARES money they received helped make up for cancelled events like bridal showers and to diversify their menu, like adding a pizza oven.

Boomer said business is better this spring, but she still plans to apply for the new grant.

"We'll never make up for all that lost business that we had. So, it's really important that we just keep getting what we can, to keep things moving," she said.

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