THU AM News: WEDC providing $5 million in grants to small businesses impacted by coronavirus; Evers directing WEDC to examine short- and long-term coronavirus measures

— WEDC is providing up to $5 million in grants to small businesses in the state to help offset losses related to coronavirus response measures.

Individual grants are capped at $20,000 and reserved for companies with 20 employees or fewer that have borrowed from one of the state’s 23 community development financial institutions. The funds will go toward rent and payroll expenses including paid leave for workers.

Companies that hope to receive grants will have to apply through participating CDFIs, and WEDC plans to announce results in the next few weeks.

CDFIs include credit unions and community development banks, as well as nonprofit loan funds and venture capital funds. Grant applications will be handled by the CDFIs rather than WEDC.

Gov. Tony Evers has issued a public health emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak, banning gatherings of more than 10 people and ordering bars and restaurants to close to in-house patrons. Retailers are also expected to take a hit as consumers stay home to prevent further community spread of the virus.

The Small Business 20/20 program was approved Tuesday by the agency’s board of directors. According to WEDC spokesman David Callender, at least 250 businesses will receive grant funding.

“Based on our board’s discussions yesterday, some of the small businesses are estimating losses below $20,000, so that would mean the number of participants could be higher,” he said in an email.

See more: 

— Gov. Tony Evers has directed WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes to establish a task force aimed at helping small businesses survive the current economic instability caused by the coronavirus.

Speaking yesterday during a call hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, he said the task force will focus on “short-term efforts we can make to bridge some of these cash flow pressures between now and when federal resources are more available.”

The guv has also asked Hughes to work with other cabinet members “to take on the challenge of longer term impacts” by creating an economic recovery unit.

“Other businesses like our manufacturers and many other industries, we know the impact of schools closing, child care situations and senior care situations … is significant,” he said. “And we know that many workers will not be able to come to work because of these impacts.”

Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman says agency officials are working with legislators on a measure to eliminate the existing one-week wait for collecting unemployment benefits.

“We’re optimistic, and we need to work with the Legislature to quickly act on this,” he said. “This is really important for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is so those folks that are most affected can get the support they need, put food on the table and pay their bills.”

He noted the number of people out of work due to the coronavirus situation “is really significant,” adding that hourly workers living paycheck-to-paycheck will be among the first affected.

“Those folks cannot wait one additional week for their income,” Frostman said. “While it’s significant for those folks just trying to survive, it’s also important for our business and our communities that are hungry for revenue sooner rather than later.”

Frostman encouraged businesses to urge their laid-off workers to apply for unemployment insurance as soon as possible, but noted the maximum they can receive is $370 per week.

— Gov. Tony Evers is requesting loan assistance from the U.S. Small Business Association for Wisconsin companies impacted by the coronavirus fallout.

In a letter to SBA leadership, Evers noted lower consumer activity, sweeping event cancellations, mandatory closures of bars, and restrictions on other restaurants are causing direct economic harm to companies. He noted the hospitality, event hosting, and small retail business sectors are struggling the most during the outbreak.

He specifically identified: Kobussen Buses, which has corporate offices in Kaukauna; Country Kitchen Cafe in Dodgeville; Common Man Tap & Table, based in Ellsworth; Kugels Cheese Mart in Lena; and Earth Rider Brewery in Superior.

According to a federal website, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans program provides up to $2 million in financial assistance to recipients, depending on how badly the company has been affected. They’re often long-term loans with low interest levels.

WEDC chief Missy Hughes says she expects the SBA to have loan applications available for Wisconsin businesses in the next two days or so. She explained the loans are restricted to businesses with 500 employees or fewer.

“We expect the SBA to be inundated with applications,” she said during a conference call yesterday. “This is a nationwide issue. We are working with the SBA to think about what resources are available in Wisconsin, things that have already been in place.”

See the letter:

— There are 106 people in Wisconsin who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Department of Health Services. 

Fourteen counties have positive cases, primarily in the south and east parts of the state. La Crosse, Washington and Brown counties are new to the list of counties with positive cases. 

Milwaukee, Dane and Fond du Lac counties have the most positive test results and the only double-digit numbers with 47, 23 and 12 cases respectively.

Milwaukee, Dane and Kenosha counties have community spread of coronavirus, which means they cannot be traced to a source such as exposure from traveling or to someone who has tested positive.

The DHS website will no longer track how many individuals are under investigation, because tests can now be ordered without pre-approval from public officials.

See state and national links to coronavirus resources: 

— The Department of Revenue is considering an income tax extension similar to the one announced this week on the federal level as an economic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But DOR Communications Director Patty Mayers told such an extension would require “bipartisan solutions with the Legislature,” as it might require statutory changes to implement.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced Tuesday a 90-day income tax payment extension on owed taxes as high as $1 million. The traditional deadline to submit 2019 income taxes is April 15.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, looking at all options,” Mayers said.

Spokesmen for GOP legislative leadership didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

— Federal lawmakers from Wisconsin are backing Gov. Tony Evers’ request for medical supplies from the national reserve stockpile.

In a letter to Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, seven of the delegation’s nine lawmakers applauded the “important public health measures” Evers has taken.

But they noted Wisconsin “is running critically low on the supplies” Evers requested the federal government provide from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Evers requested: 54,709 N95 respirators; 130,326 surgical masks; 24,816 face shields; 20,233 surgical gowns; 104 coveralls; and 72,044 gloves.

The group asked Kadlec when the state would receive the supplies and how the Trump administration plans to replenish the stockpile and respond to other critical shortages, among other things.

See more at 

— The Wisconsin Restaurant Association has assembled resources for industry members and diners, including a list of which restaurants are open during the coronavirus outbreak. 

See more: 

— See state and national links to coronavirus resources here: 


# Madison hospitals facing potential bed shortage could turn to UW-Madison dorms for overflow

# Advocate Aurora plans drive-thru COVID-19 testing at several locations

# COVID-19 changing how Wisconsin grocery stores operate

# Promega helping supply materials for COVID-19 tests



– DATCP provides resources to farmers, ag businesses on COVID-19


– WBA creates interactive map for available bank lobby, drive-through access


– Construction projects continue in Wisconsin uninterrupted by coronavirus


– Local bars hit hard by loss of St. Patty’s Day business

– Gov. Evers talks with CEOs of state’s largest employers about COVID-19 response needs

– Emergency steps eyed to help Wisconsin deal with outbreak


– UW Extension staff to work remotely


– Milwaukee-area restaurants, bars ask government to help during COVID-19 pandemic


– Milwaukee Health Department adjusts services in response to COVID-19

– ‘There’s a lot of fear’: Madison homeless advocates look to innovate in midst of COVID-19


– SoftBank may not buy $3 billion in WeWork shares


– Gov. Tony Evers seeks to aid workers affected by pandemic with changes to unemployment insurance

– Evers orders end of work-search mandate for UI benefits


– DATCP has received 34 price gouging complaints, including 7 against Menards


– Harley investor helped push CEO out and now wants its directors on board


– Harley-Davidson shareholder says Levatich was fired as CEO, nominates ex-NASCAR exec to board


– Wisconsin Senate postpones remainder of session

– Wisconsin lawmakers ask for emergency medical supplies


– Expecting short-term pain from coronavirus, hotel developers still building


– Evers orders restrictions on child care facilities to slow COVID-19 spread

– Wisconsin puts limits on child care centers over COVID-19

– New Berlin suspends ‘non-essential’ building inspections because of COVID-19


– Pick ‘n Save, Metro Market stores further restrict hours as grocery demand increases


– WEDC offering $5 million grants for small businesses


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.: Announces targeted grants to small businesses suffering losses due to coronavirus outbreak