By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – Two local organizations will share in about $1.3 million of more than $100 million statewide grants supporting diversity in business.
Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday $15.7 million will be added to the more than $86 million in investments already being made across Wisconsin to support diversity in business, and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes stopped at the Old Fort Square building on Broadway Wednesday to announce two grants that will have major impacts on local businesses.
Included in the new round of funding is $331,565 for NewCap, a local organization focused on enhancing community development, and $985,194 for On Broadway, Inc.
“Wisconsin has had the opportunity to strategically invest dollars back into our communities,” Hughes said. “A lot of states have been put in positions of just using those dollars to recover and rebuild but because Wisconsin started from a strong foundation, we’ve been able to really invest those dollars. We’re starting to see the benefits of those investments.”
The Diverse Business Assistance Program, administered by the Department of Administration and funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, is part of a more than $1 billion investment for economic resilience and support for small businesses nationwide.
“There is one area that we have consistently observed in our strategic planning process that has been missing, and that is the ability to help business owners who are faced with barriers every single day,” said On Broadway, Inc. CEO Brian Johnson. “We work with vendors in all of our events — some of our cottage industry producers — that we know can create a pathway to a brick-and-mortar storefront if they have a little bit of help.”
Johnson said it’s important to focus on identifying businesses that need support and then getting those businesses the help they need to be successful before they slip through the cracks.
“Some of the highest growth rates that we’ve seen in business entrepreneurship in recent years has actually been among African American females,” he said. “And so, how do we recognize that opportunity and be a support that can work with those individuals?”
Johnson said event programming is a huge part of what On Broadway, Inc. does, and the new grant money will help with those opportunities as well as with expanding volunteer opportunities within the organization.
On Broadway, Inc. also plans on adding two new positions to its staff over the next couple of years using the grant money.
NewCap also has big plans for the grant money.
“The grant dollars are really going to help us put a foothold under our new Virtual Business Empowerment Center, which we anticipate launching in the next couple of weeks,” NewCap Vice President of Asset Development Michelle Madl said. “Through our Business Empowerment Center, we will be able to provide one-on-one technical assistance to small business owners and entrepreneurs.”