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COVID-19 and Small Business Assistance

Updated March 23, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues to negatively impact business and industry.

In Wisconsin, it is a rapidly-changing landscape, given restrictions on public and private mass gatherings of ten (10) or more people as well as the mandatory 5:00 p.m. closure of bars and restaurants (except for take-out orders), school closures, and the strong encouragement of remote working, etc. These are dramatic steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

To assist small businesses incurring losses due to the crisis, action is underway on several fronts, including the Governor’s office and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the state’s lead economic development organization.

On March 20, 2020 the Small Business Administration (SBA) approved Governor Tony Evers’ request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. As a result, severely impacted Wisconsin businesses can access targeted, low-interest loans through the SBA. The loans provide necessary working capital for businesses to operate until normal obligations resume. Businesses can use the loan funds to satisfy payment obligations in which they are unable to meet due to the COVID-19 disruption. Each business may qualify for up to $2 million. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for for-profit businesses and 2.75 percent for non-profits. Repayment is deferred for four months and the term is determined by the business’s ability to repay, with long-term options up to 30-years.

Business and industry may apply online at the SBA’s website, . It is a three-step process, Eligible Disaster Areas (Wisconsin is confirmed), Apply Online (requires the set-up of User Name and Password), and Check Application Status.

On March 17th, WEDC’s board of directors met and approved $5 million in funding for its special program known as Small Business 20/20 (SB20/20). SB20/20 will provide grants of up to $20,000 to targeted businesses with no more than 20 employees to cover rent and to meet payroll expenses, including paid leave (including sick, family and other leave related to COVID-19). WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes announced the program. The grants will be deployed by WEDC partnering with state’s 23 community development financial institutions (CDFIs) because CDFIs have pre-existing relationships with many of these small businesses.

Secretary Hughes’ announcement and outline of SB20/20 can be found here

The link to WEDC’s summary of SB20/20, including downloadable program information can be found here


As always, business and industry are encourage to utilize advisors like banks and credit unions, accountants, attorneys, local and county EDCs, and chambers of commerce.

St. Croix EDC can be reached at (715) 381-4383 or by email at