Business Opportunity Loan Fund

Program Goal:

The Business Opportunity Loan Fund (BOLF) program is to incent new and expanding businesses in the state of Wisconsin.

This program primarily supports the following WEDC Strategic Pillar and Focus Area:

Business Development: Business Retention and Expansion

Program Description:

The program provides financing to businesses for retention, expansion or relocation to Wisconsin. WEDC loans generally range between $200,000 and $1,000,000 based on need, quality and quantity of jobs, as well as other program, statute and policy requirements. Public participation should generally not exceed 35% of the total project and should never exceed the private contribution.

Eligibility Requirements:


“Corporate Headquarters” means the office location where staff members or employees are physically employed and where the majority of the company’s financial personnel, legal, planning, or other headquarters functions are handled on a divisional, regional, national or global basis.

“Eligible Employee” means a person employed in a Full-Time Job.

“Financial Institution” means a bank, as defined in Wis. Stat. §214.01(1)(c), a savings bank, as defined in Wis. Stat. §214.01(1)(t), a savings and loan association, a trust company, a credit union, as defined in Wis. Stat. §186.01(2), a mortgage banker, as defined in Wis. Stat. §224.71(3)(a), or a mortgage broker, as defined in Wis. Stat. §224.71(4)(a), whether chartered under the laws of this state, another state or territory, or under the laws of the United States; a company that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with a bank, a savings bank, a savings and loan association, a trust company, a credit union, a mortgage banker, or a mortgage broker; or a person licensed under Wis. Stat. §138.09, other than a person who agrees for a fee to hold a check for a period of time before negotiating or presenting the check for payment and other than a pawnbroker, as defined in Wis. Stat. §138.10(1)(a).

“Full-Time Job” means a regular, non-seasonal full-time position in which an individual, as a condition of employment, is required to work at least 2,080 hours per year, including paid leave and holidays, and for which the individual receives pay that is equal to at least 150% of the federal minimum wage, and benefits that are not required by federal or state law. “Full-Time Job” does not include initial training before an employment position begins.


A “Full-Time Job” means a regular, non-seasonal full-time position in which the annual pay for the position is more than the amount determined by multiplying 2,080 by 150% of the federal minimum wage, and an individual in the position is offered retirement, health and other benefits that are equivalent to the retirement, health and other benefits offered to an individual who is required to work at least 2,080 hours per year. “Full-Time Job” does not include initial training before an employment position begins.

Employees that do not meet one of these two definitions will not be counted toward head count or wages. Part-time employees do not count.

“Ineligible Business” means businesses ineligible for BOLF funds, unless extraordinary circumstances exist, including but not limited to a serious threat of a business leaving the state, significant job creation or retention, or significant capital investment, and such extraordinary circumstances are approved by the Board of Directors’ Awards Administration Committee:

  • Payday loan and title companies
  • Telemarketing other than inbound call centers
  • Pawn shops
  • Media outlets
  • Retail
  • Farms
  • Primary care medical facilities
  • Financial institutions
  • The hospitality industry

Loan Requirements

To be eligible for a BOLF award, the applicant must offer the employees filling the Full-Time Jobs to be attracted, created or retained as part of the project at least 50% of the health insurance benefit costs to the employees or other equivalent health insurance benefits that are acceptable to WEDC. Recipients will be expected to continue to offer all Eligible Employees retirement, health and other benefits.

The loan’s interest rate will generally be at least 2.0 percent, with an original term not to exceed seven years unless there are extenuating circumstances. Deferred payments and interest-only payments may be built into the terms of the loan as determined by project need and negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Deliverables in the contract may include capital investment and job creation or job retention.

Generally, BOLF funds will be used for projects, not bids to do projects such as company or asset acquisitions that may be acquired through bankruptcy or other proceedings.

Performance-Based Loans

WEDC may offer loan that provide performance-based reductions of principal if warranted under extenuating circumstances, including significant impact on jobs, capital investment, and economic impact on the surrounding area. In addition to the eligibility criteria listed below, recipients must create or retain positions meeting the definition of a Full-Time Job to be considered for a Performance-Based Reduction in principal. Performance-Based Loans may be considered for businesses structured as ESOPs where no other WEDC program will sufficiently benefit the company.

To be eligible for a Performance-Based Loan, generally at least two of the following project criteria must be met:

  • Retention of at least 100 Full-Time Jobs
  • Creation of at least 150 Full-Time Jobs
  • Include significant capital investment in excess of $20 million that is directly related to the project and does not include normal capital expenditures that are planned as part of doing business
  • Must have significant positive impact on the local economy; for instance, an EMSI score of 1.75 or higher. However, some instances (such as non-manufacturing businesses including high-tech, scientific, R&D, and corporate headquarters) may need to rely on the Direct Jobs Indicator as a better indicator of impact.
  • Other states are offering competing incentives

Use of Funds

Recipients may use BOLF funds for:

  • Working capital
  • Equipment
  • Building construction and improvements
  • Land acquisition
  • Private infrastructure improvements
  • Asset acquisition

BOLF funds may not be used for past costs.

Incentives and Available Funding (FY17): $5,000,000

Eligible businesses may receive direct loan or loan guarantee packages to provide financing for projects to attract, create and/or retain jobs and capital investment made in Wisconsin.

Loan awards will generally be calculated based on the following criteria:

Job Creation and Retention:

The amount of the loan may equal up to 25 percent of the annual projected wages for employees earning at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage, capped at $100,000 per employee.

Capital Investment

Loan awards based upon capital investment are eligible for up to 5 percent of the real property costs and up to 3 percent of equipment costs.

Loan Guarantee

A loan guarantee may be considered to help leverage financing that the business would not have been able to secure had it not been for the guarantee, or to help the business secure a more favorable interest rate. The guarantee shall typically not exceed seven years or the term of the loan, whichever is less. The lender must be able to substantiate the need for the guarantee by providing to WEDC a detailed credit analysis for the proposed financial commitment. The guarantee must be approved and contracted by WEDC prior to the closing of the loan.

The loan guarantee amount and terms will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis between WEDC and the applicant lender.

Activities and Expected Outcomes

Assist 8 businesses, support the creation of 350 jobs, retention of 600 jobs, and achieve a 10:1 leverage of other investment.

Performance Reporting

Businesses will be required to submit annual project reports documenting job creation, job retention and capital investment, as well as any other contract deliverable.

WEDC may impose additional reporting requirements to evaluate project performance and to ensure compliance with contract deliverables.


Application and Awards Process:

Applicants for a BOLF loan or loan guarantee should complete an application through a regional economic development director. The application will be assigned to an underwriter and go through the management review process.

For more information on application review, internal process and award distribution, please refer to WEDC’s award administration policies and procedures.