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.

For information on Milwaukee Downtown's recently-launched MKE It Back grant program, click here.

Recovery Financing Tools

Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program Round #2

The Small Business Administration (SBA) extended the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program through May 31, 2021 for the financial assistance loan program designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. 

SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. 

Interested business can begin preparing an application by downloading the following PPP borrower application forms to see the information that will be requested when applying with a lender:

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) Program

The SVOG program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, and amended by the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. The SVOG targets assistance to Live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria, motion picture theater operators, talent representatives and more.

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. The application portal opens on April 8, 2021. The application and more program information can be found here.

Main Street Relief Fund for Bars, Clubs, Restaurants, and Music Venus

Small business that hosted live music up through February 2020 are eligible to apply for the round 2 grants from the Main Street Relief Fund. Created in partnership with Crown Royal, awards of $10,000 will be granted to small business restaurants, bars and live music venues. For this round of funding, priority will be given to businesses that are owned by people of color or women and have not received other forms of financial assistance, however, all small businesses in these industries are encouraged to apply by the February 5, 2021 deadline. The application and more information can be found at the Main Street Alliance website by clicking here.

Main Street Lending Program

The Federal Reserve established the Main Street Lending Program (Program) to support lending to small and medium-sized businesses that were in sound financial condition before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Program will operate through three facilities: the Main Street New Loan Facility (MSNLF), the Main Street Priority Loan Facility (MSPLF), and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility (MSELF). Term sheets for each facility and information regarding eligibility and conditions can be found by clicking 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.


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.

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: 

Small Business Administration (SBA) Programs & Provisions

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) 

The EIDL program can also provide small businesses with working capital loans 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

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

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. 

Restaurant, Bar and Service Staff Support 

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. 

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.