Evers Proposes $329M In Economic Development As Part Of Next State Budget

Gov. Tony Evers will propose more than $329 million in new economic development initiatives as part of his state budget proposal on Tuesday, including a new $100 million venture capital fund to help startups and $200 million to assist small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Evers released details of his economic development plan on Sunday. In a press release, Evers said the funding would be part of his “Badger Bounceback” plan to help stabilize the state’s economy. 

“Over the past year, our small businesses have seen the effects of this pandemic firsthand. I am proud of our small businesses and of the critical investments we made with our We’re All In grant program, but we know we have more work to do in making sure we can recover from this pandemic,” said Gov. Evers. “These investments will ensure our main street businesses, our workers, and our state bounce back and better than before by helping folks recover from this pandemic while investing in new innovation and startups.”

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The release goes on to say that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation provided nearly 55,000 small business around $240 million in support over the past year. That funding comes via the federal CARES Act stimulus funding passed by Congress in March 2020. 

Evers said the venture capital funding would be used to invest a maximum of $25 million in new businesses that have already secured matching funds from private sources. Evers said the program will require at least 20 percent of the venture capital funds go toward minority-owned, women-owned firms or businesses located in underserved areas. He said the WEDC will establish an oversight board to facilitate the new funding program. 

Evers will submit his two-year state budget proposal to the Republican-controlled Legislature on Tuesday, which will then spend months reworking it before passing its own version this summer.