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Help for small businesses impacted by coronavirus

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MADISON (WKOW) -- State officials have launched a new grant program to help small business owners impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is creating a $5 million program called Small Business 20/20.

Businesses with no more than 20 employees can apply for grants up to $20,000 to pay for rent and payroll expenses. That includes sick, family and other leave related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes says the $5 million available won't be enough to cover all the losses, but it's a start as the state waits for more help to come in.

"While we're excited about it, it is a drop in the bucket. And what we're hoping is we can demonstrate an ability to get funds out to small businesses as quickly as we can, so that when we see additional resources come in either from the state level or the federal level, or the private sector, we can help deploy those resources as quickly as possible," Hughes told 27 News. "What we're really trying to do is bridge between this moment of having to close the doors in respect of social distancing and the executive orders."

Click here for more information about the program.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is also offering low-interest federal disaster loans for businesses dealing with losses during the pandemic.

States that apply for SBA disaster aid will have access to the funding for businesses, but at this time Wisconsin has not declared a disaster. Gov. Evers' office said Wednesday the state has submitted a request to the SBA to help Wisconsin businesses.

“Social distancing and self-isolation are critical steps in reducing and preventing the spread of this virus in our communities, but it comes at an economic cost to our local businesses,” said Gov. Evers in a statement. “The loan assistance from SBA will help alleviate some of the financial burden and stress on our small businesses during this public health crisis. We will continue to work with our federal partners, state officials, and stakeholders to ensure we are improving public safety and health while protecting our state economy.”

The SBA loans would offer up to $2 million per business to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. '

"That can be used for working capital and basically to replace money that they would have been taking in during this time if it wasn't for this disaster, so if they need to pay employees, if there's something that they need to buy to continue operations, they'll be able to do that with the money that they get from the loan," said Shirah Apple, public affairs specialist in the Wisconsin office of the SBA.

According to the governor's office, surveys of businesses over the past several days, show the COVID-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on a variety of businesses in Wisconsin, especially hospitality, event hosting and support, and small retail businesses dependent upon daily traffic. 

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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