Dept. of Commerce: New Microgrant Program Spurs Entrepreneur and Inventor Clubs

Tony Hozeny, Department of Commerce, 608/267-9661

MADISON-Economic development corporations, chambers of commerce and other organizations interested in creating an Inventor and Entrepreneur (I&E) Club in their area may now apply online for a microgrant from the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network (WEN).

“I’m confident that I&E Clubs can help us build a climate where inventors and entrepreneurs with good ideas can create tomorrow’s new businesses and new jobs,” said Commerce Secretary Mary P. Burke. “We’ve found that entrepreneurism is contagious and these clubs help foster that spirit.”

The program is funded by WEN and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. Eligible counties may apply for a $1,000 grant to establish a local club, thus enhancing an area’s entrepreneurial culture.

The microgrant program draws on a successful model established by the Juneau County Economic Development Corporation (JCEDC). The Juneau County Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club helps individuals come together to think creatively, develop their ideas, weigh the risks, meet other would-be entrepreneurs and network with assistance providers. Founded in 2003, this club now has over 300 members. A number of new companies have already spun out of the club’s activities and area businesses are tapping into the ideas and innovations surfacing from club members.

JCEDC has devised a DVD with recommendations and suggestions to help other counties interested in establishing a club “catch the entrepreneurial culture.” JCEDC is administering the new I&E club grant program as one of the 50 designated intake centers that make up WEN.

To apply for an I&E Club grant, visit

For more information about the Inventor and Entrepreneur Club microgrant program or Commerce services for entrepreneurs, contact Pam Christenson, Commerce, at 608/267-9384.