MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced a $100 million investment in Wisconsin’s economic recovery as part of the state’s funds received under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. The investment aims to ensure businesses and communities across Wisconsin have additional support and resources to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. The announcement comes after the governor recently announced his plan for investing $2.5 billion in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan into the state’s economic recovery and well-being, $600 million of which will go toward supporting small business recovery across the state.
Today’s announcement includes $50 million in Wisconsin Tomorrow – Main Street Bounceback grants, to encourage businesses to move into vacant storefronts in downtowns and other commercial corridors around the state. The program will provide $10,000 grants to new or existing businesses that move into vacant commercial properties in Wisconsin communities. The Wisconsin Tomorrow – Main Street Bounceback grants are part of Gov. Evers’ commitment to invest $600 million in support for small businesses.
“Our top priority continues to be getting these funds out to folks who need it across our state so they can recover and bounce back from this pandemic,” said Gov. Evers. “Many of our state’s downtowns have been hit hard as retailers, restaurants, and other Main Street businesses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these grants are intended to get those storefronts filled and get our downtowns humming again.”
“Many of our state’s economic corridors – both urban and rural — are filled with empty storefronts,” said WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes. “These business closures have meant loss of employment and income for workers and business owners, decreased tax revenue for local governments, and a concerning trend for other businesses still hanging on. That’s why we’re working together to get this turned around.”
In addition, Gov. Evers announced a $50 million Equitable Recovery program, primarily through grants to community partners who are doing work to eliminate disparities and promote equity and inclusion, which will be coordinated by the Department of Administration. Throughout the pandemic, racial disparities have persisted in COVID-19 health outcomes and economic impacts, exacerbating existing stark disparities experienced by underserved communities, in particular for people of color in Wisconsin.
“As I’ve said before, our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and as we work toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that equity is at the forefront,” said Gov. Evers. “These dedicated funds will ensure support for many of the important work happening on the ground to advance equity and bolster those efforts.”
The Equitable Recovery program will invest in work across many of the indicators of economic well-being identified in the WEDC’s recently released Wisconsin Tomorrow 2021 report, including economic, educational, health, housing, and environmental initiatives.
Gov. Evers has allocated $2.5 billion from the roughly $3.2 billion the state anticipates receiving in American Rescue Plan Act funds to assist Wisconsin’s recovery and restore economic well-being. The state continues to await federal guidance before being able to provide complete program details or open applications.