Economic Resources and Programs

Economic Support

Being a resource to businesses is a top priority for Milwaukee Downtown. We've been working around the clock to gather information on loans, grants and other financial packages to assist businesses in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 pandemic. This resources page is updated regularly and provides links to local, state and federal relief programs. To request that a resource be added to the list, email with the name of the program and website.

Small Business Administration (SBA) CARES Act Programs & Provisions

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. We encourage you to apply as soon as possible because there is a funding cap. 

Click here for more information and eligibility requirements. The application can be found here. The completed application and the required documentation should be submitted to an approved lender soon. 

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and Loan Advancement

Small business owners are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000 (which may be forgivable), even while your EIDL application may still be in process.

The EIDL program can also provide small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue small businesses are experiencing. Click here for more information and eligibility requirements. The application can be found here

This video features step-by-step instructions for the SBA EIDL Application.

In addition to the specific programs listed above, visit the SBA website for additional programs that may be helpful to your small business.

Other Finance Tools

Milwaukee Restart Grant Program 

The City of Milwaukee has launched the Milwaukee Restart Grant Program to assist established Milwaukee businesses as they recover from COVID-19-related setbacks. Grants can be used to restock perishable inventory, purchase personal protective equipment, and accommodate social distancing guidance.  The program is targeted at small businesses (under $2 million in revenue and less than 20 full time employees) significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Online applications will be accepted through June 12, 2020. Applications and eligibility requirements can be found here.

Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant 

To help ethnic minority-owned small businesses cope with the economic impact of COVID-19, the Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant Initiative has been created to provide grants of $2,000 to 1,000 Wisconsin micro-businesses. The initiative aims to support ethnically diverse micro-businesses that have not received SBA Paycheck Protection Program or other relief programs. Applications are being accepted from May 18 - 24, 2020 through Wisconsin’s Collective Ethnic and Diverse Organizations. For more information on the eligibility requirements, click here.

We're All In Grants

The We’re All In initiative will provide direct assistance to small businesses most impacted by the duration and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. These $2,500 cash grants will assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages, and inventory. Businesses will be able to apply for grant assistance in early June. More information on the program can be found here.

WWBIC COVID-19 Fast Track Loan Program

This new WWBIC program is focused on existing businesses looking for business financing during COVID-19. Business owners have two options to pick from depending on their needs: a line of credit up to $10,000 or a term loan up to $15,000. Click here for more information, eligibility requirements, and the application.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp (WEDC) Small Business 20/20

The Small Business 20/20 program provides funds to Wisconsin-based Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to make grants to existing loan clients to mitigate short-term cash flow issues and protect jobs and public health in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Click here for more info. 

Business For All Grants 

Led by Hello Alice, with the support of Verizon, Silicon Valley Bank, Ebay, and small business owners and advocates across America, Business for All is providing $10,000 to $50,000 grants, expert mentorship, a strong community, and a comprehensive suite of small business resources. Click here for qualifications and the application. 

LISC Small Business Relief Grants 

LISC, with support from funders like Verizon and Sam's Club, is providing grants to small businesses to help with immediate financial impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The next application period begins on May 14th.  Click here to apply when the application period opens. Before completing the application, review the Grant Information Overview and FAQ, which can be found here.


Kiva has expanded lending terms and eligibility to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Downtown businesses in our communities that are women-, minority- and/or veteran-owned are also eligible for a 50% match from WEDC to expedite their loan. Encourage your businesses to apply, and/or sign up to be a lender yourself here.

The Ethnic & Diverse Business Coalition (EDBC)

The Ethnic & Diverse Business Coalition (EDBC) created a grant program to assist small ethnic and diverse businesses of any industry that are a business member in one of their coalition members during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility criteria and grant applications can be found here.

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Unemployment COVID-19 Public Information for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Click here for more info or apply for benefits online here.

For those that are temporarily unemployed because of the coronavirus, consider applying to the following positions: 

Bank Resources

American Bankers Association (ABA)

American Bankers Association is compiling a list of publicly announced steps for banks of all sizes to respond to the crisis. Click here for more info. 

Associated Bank 

For both consumers and small business owner members, they have created a COVID-19 Relief Program, designed to alleviate some of the financial hardships you may face as a result of illness or workplace changes. Click here for more info. 

UW Credit Union Emergency Personal Loan

For those members who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, they are offering a low-rate personal loan to help with budgeting concerns. Click here for more info.

Restaurant, Bar and Service Staff Support 

USBG National Charitable Foundation's Bartender Emergency Assistance Program

Emergency funding for bar industry staff who need financial support, can apply to the USBG National Charitable Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program. USBG membership is not required to receive funds. Click here for grant eligibility requirements, selection criteria, and the applications.

Restaurant Workers Community Foundation 

The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation is planning to launch a relief fund that will be available to anyone in the United States. The site currently features other resources for restaurant workers.

One Fair Wage

One Fair Wage is providing cash assistance to restaurant workers, car service drivers, delivery workers, personal service workers and more who need the money they are currently not receiving due to COVID-19. 

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United 

The nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United has set a target of $500,000 for its emergency relief fund, which seeks to help documented and undocumented restaurant workers who lose their jobs during the pandemic.

For a list of relief funds for restaurant, bar and food service workers, visit Eater's comprehensive list

Other Resources

Facebook Business Resource Hub & Gift Card Support Platform

Facebook knows that your business may be experiencing disruptions and to help has created a resource hub with quick tips, tailored industry guides, small business network groups and more. Facebook is also making it easy to create an online gift card platform for your business so that your customers can support your business through gift card purchases today. Click here for details and to get started. 

Temporary Restaurant Carryout Program 

To assist restaurants that currently do not have a loading zone adjacent to their business, the City of Milwaukee has implemented a temporary program to provide "Restaurant Carryout Zones". Click here to view program information and complete the online form. 

All Class B and Class C establishments are currently allowed to sell sealed containers of alcohol to go. The hours are the same as those allowed under a Class A establishment (liquor/grocery store), which are 8am – 9pm, as long as the individual license for that business allows those hours. Beer and wine can be sold in unlimited quantities, while there is a 4 liter restriction per customer for liquor. Curbside service is allowed for those establishments that already hold a Sidewalk Dining Facility Permit that extends to the area where alcohol will be given to the customer. Businesses without a sidewalk café would be required to obtain a Temporary Change to the Plan of Operation permit


Small businesses, in the form of independent restaurants and bars, are eligible for in-kind advertising assistance. Click here for more info.