Area economic development organizations have partnered to create a new fund for small businesses with storefronts in commercial districts of La Crosse County.
The fund is intended to help businesses that are struggling with closures or reduced operational capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Couleecap, Inc., Downtown Mainstreet Inc., La Crosse County, La Crosse Area Development Corp. and North La Crosse Business Association announced the Launch La Crosse Small Business Recovery Fund, which will provide grants up to $5,000 to small, locally owned retail, restaurant or personal businesses with between one and 20 employees.
In addition to grants, businesses applying to the fund will be connected to resources to aid in planning for sustainability and adjusting to new economic conditions. Resources will offer help for web-based marketing, setting up online stores and planning recovery goals.
Couleecap, DMI and partners will offer resources that range from one-time webinars to multi-week educational programs that are delivered virtually by trained facilitators.
“We understand that there are many people at various levels of this growing relief infrastructure that are working to deliver financial resources to struggling small businesses,” said Aaron Reimler, Couleecap business and income developer. “We also understand there is a significant need and financial gaps that will continue to remain, and that we need to be able to react quickly to those gaps as they emerge.”
Applications for the fund will be reviewed weekly by a grant committee. Awards will be made each week as long as funds remain available.
According to program organizers, federal COVID-19 stimulus packages provide resources to support businesses, but these resources have had limited eligibility and high nationwide demand, preventing many smaller businesses from participating.
Sole proprietors, micro-enterprises, and other small businesses may not be eligible for government assistance due to their limited size and the complex nature of the application process.
The program is being initiated with grants from Wells Fargo, Associated Bank and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., along with contributions from Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions LLC, The Weber Group, Dave and Barb Skogen and Kwik Trip.
To maintain the program, organizers are seeking additional donations to help build and sustain this fund. Privately raised funds will go directly to assisting small businesses in La Crosse County.
The May 31 event was hosted by the Wisconsin National Guard and funded by the federal government.
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“We understand that there are many people at various levels of this growing relief infrastructure that are working to deliver financial resources to struggling small businesses. We also understand there is a significant need and financial gaps that will continue to remain, and that we need to be able to react quickly to those gaps as they emerge.”
Aaron Reimler, Couleecap business and income developer
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