MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) – The Evers administration announced Sunday its plans to include funding in the 2021-2023 budget to continue the recovery process for Wisconsin’s small businesses and jumpstart innovation.
The plan, called the Badger Bounceback, includes funding for small business assistance, workforce development initiatives and venture capital.
In a statement on the proposal, Gov. Evers said: “Over the past year, our small businesses have seen the effects of this pandemic firsthand. I am proud of our small businesses and of the critical investments we made with our We’re All In grant program, but we know we have more work to do in making sure we can recover from this pandemic,” Evers said. “These investments will ensure our main street businesses, our workers, and our state bounce back and better than before by helping folks recover from this pandemic while investing in new innovation and startups.”
Breaking Down the Proposal
In the budget plan, the Evers administration wants to allocate more than $200 million to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to assist small businesses through efforts including job retention and rehiring initiatives.
Additionally, Evers proposes raising the WEDC’s block grant by $10 million each year of the budget so funding will become $51.5 million per year.
Evers’ funding proposal to help small businesses further includes:
- $8 million for WEDC to give to organizations dedicated to local or regional economic development
- $10 million in direct investment for minority and women-owned businesses to promote entrepreneurship in underserved communities
- $780,000 in tribal gaming revenue for Wisconsin’s 11 federally recognized Native Nations
The budget would also seek to put more than $29 million into workforce development initiatives. This would include:
- $8 million over the budget period in pandemic recovery grants to local workforce development boards
- $10 million for the Fast Forward program
- $1 million for the Fast Forward program specifically aimed at green jobs in Wisconsin
- Transferring $250,000 from Fast Forward and putting it into Project Search for young adults with disabilities
- $500,000 to expand apprenticeship opportunities to more school districts in the state
- $9.7 million to go into a program with Career Coaches by the Department of Workforce Development that helps people overcome barriers to employment
The third component of Evers’ Badger Bounceback agenda focuses on kickstarting economic innovation and investment.
$100 million will be used to create a new venture capital fund under the supervision of the WEDC. Stipulations on the money used in this fund of funds includes:
- No recipient may receive more than $25 million
- The money must be invested within Wisconsin
- Investments must also have a private source of funding
- Every one dollar invested by the state must be matched with one dollar invested by a private source, so that overall, the state’s venture capital fund has a match rate of two private dollars invested to each one of the state’s dollars
- 20% of total funds must be invested in minority-owned or women-owned firms in underserved areas
As part of the plan, the WEDC will create an oversight board to start and manage the program. The investments made by this new fund as well as those by the already established Badger Fund of Funds will be able to be continually reinvested.
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