Grants to build a supportive culture for Wisconsin entrepreneurs and startups

Grants to build a supportive culture for Wisconsin entrepreneurs and startups

Entrepreneurs standing around a table

A new round of Entrepreneurship Support Grants have been awarded to nine organizations around the state, providing funds that will help fill resource gaps for young companies by providing entrepreneurs with training, mentorship, business development and financial services, among other resources.

Launched in 2016, the grant program has provided a total of nearly $1.5 million in grants to 26 organizations statewide to help fund activities such as prototyping assistance, legal services, and outreach to underserved entrepreneurs. This program has worked to strengthen entrepreneurial communities around the state by enabling organizations to provide services to hundreds of entrepreneurs through a wide variety of initiatives.

“The Entrepreneurship Support Grant is one of my favorite programs because we see new and creative solutions developed to assist Wisconsin entrepreneurs,” says Ed Javier, WEDC’s entrepreneurship program director. “I believe in the importance of having a startup mentality when it comes to finding ways to accelerate new businesses in Wisconsin, and this program is a great example of that.”

Recipients of this year’s Entrepreneurship Support Grants include:

  • BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation: $55,000 to organize and host three iterations of the successful HATCH entrepreneurial pitch program in three regions of Wisconsin, for a total of nine events
  • Oconto County Economic Development Corporation: $40,000 to promote and assist in new business formation and accelerate business growth in Oconto County
  • Green County Development Corporation: $80,000 to promote and assist in new business formation and accelerate business growth in Green and surrounding counties; activities from the program are projected to engage more than 900 individuals and create 15 to 17 new businesses
  • Couleecap Inc.: $70,000 to support its multi-agency plan to provide and expand entrepreneurship services in the region, creating up to 35 new businesses
  • Indianhead Community Action Agency Inc.: $41,000 to provide technical assistance resources to entrepreneurs in 12 rural northwest Wisconsin counties
  • Concordia University: $59,000 to provide an innovative cohort-based education program to low-wealth communities in Milwaukee with the partnership of BizStarts
  • Janesville Innovation Inc.: $40,000 to build and expand the Rock County Entrepreneurial Business Development Program, which provides customized technical assistance to startups and scaling growth companies in Rock County
  • UW Health Innovation Hub: $75,000 to create a “hub” to gather innovative ideas and solutions directly related to patient and health system challenges and to enable those ideas to advance by providing resources in product development, legal and accounting services
  • Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council Inc.: $40,000 to provide business development services to underserved and disenfranchised populations in western Wisconsin

The Entrepreneurship Support Program is part of WEDC’s suite of entrepreneurship resources, which includes support for startup accelerators, seed capital funds, investment tax credits and technology development loans. In addition, WEDC supports and engages an existing statewide network of partners that offer business training, mentorship and financing to aspiring entrepreneurs.

While WEDC already had a variety of programs to support the formation, development, growth and financing of technology-based and growth-oriented startup and early-stage businesses, the Entrepreneurship Support Program was added to provide funds for organizations and communities whose efforts may not meet the eligibility criteria for the other programs. Entrepreneurship Support Grants are awarded on a competitive basis, and grant funds must be matched by the applicant. Projects supported by the new round of grant funding must take place in 2019.