Milwaukee Downtown Business Development Loan Pool (BDLP)

The BDLP program is a source of potential financing to assist in commercial revitalization efforts, increase capital investments, and provide support to new and existing property owners and businesses located within the boundaries of BID #21. The program can provide low-cost loans to businesses as well as a possible funding mechanism for redevelopment or improving commercial and mixed use structures. Loans are made based on a maximum of 20% of eligible project costs and shall not exceed more than $25,000 with an interest rate that can be fixed as low as 1.0%.

View BDLP Application Here View BDLP Brochure Here

Commercial Revitalization Grants for Storefront Activation, Façade Improvements & Signage

Commercial Revitalization Grants provide financial and business assistance to businesses and commercial property owners interested in renovating their buildings. The program was established by the Department of City Development to improve and enhance the physical appearance of commercial buildings in the City's Commercial Corridors. The fund offers three different programs to assist businesses and property owners to invest in commercial interior spaces, storefront facades, and signage. For more information on the grant program categories and eligible activities, click here.


Commercial Revitalization Grant Application (English) Commercial Revitalization Grant Application (Spanish)

Opportunity Zones

Downtown Milwaukee has several shovel-ready sites, primarily in the former Park East freeway corridor and adjacent to the Fiserv Forum, located in Opportunity Zones that are prime for development. Two of the Downtown Milwaukee Qualified Census Tracts were named “Top 50 Opportunity Zone”development sites in the United States by Smart Growth America because the investment has “a triple-bottom-line that can deliver positive economic, environmental, and social returns.” Learn more about Opportunity Zone fundamentals, development projects that are complete or under construction, and the featured downtown Milwaukee sites that are ready for Opportunity Fund investment.

Learn More About Downtown Opportunity Zones

Milwaukee Downtown PACE Financing Pool

Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 has partnered with PACE Equity to establish a $20 million funding pool to encourage energy efficient upgrades for commercial properties within the boundaries of Business Improvement District #21. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing pool can assist with upgrades such as heating and cooling systems, roofs, elevators, mechanics, lighting, building controls and solar. In addition, financing can be used for building renovations, redevelopments or new construction. 

PACE allows property owners to pay for improvements over time while reaping the benefits of lower energy and maintenance bills. Payments for the improvement are collected through a municipal special charge that is attached to the property, not the owner, and is paid back through the property tax system over time. Projects are designed so the annual energy and other savings pay for the special charge for a net positive cash flow.

Learn More About the Downtown PACE Program

Better Buildings Challenge

The City of Milwaukee is a proud participant in the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy which is a comprehensive energy efficiency program that provides all of the tools and resources necessary for commercial building owners to develop and implement energy efficiency projects in their buildings. The challenge sets the goal of 20% energy savings in 10 years by making energy efficiency retrofits easy, affordable and compelling for commercial building owners and managers.

Milwaukee’s Better Building Challenge offers a number of incentives, including a free energy assessment to make it easy for building owners to get started. Projects can range from small lighting upgrades to full building system overhauls. By taking the pledge, Milwaukee property owners can easily reduce energy consumption, increase building value and tenant retention/attraction, all while strengthening the property’s overall operating budget. Take advantage today of all the tools that accompany the Better Buildings Challenge.

Learn More About the Better Building Challenge

Kiva US

Kiva US is a loan program within Kiva that provides 0% interest loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs through a crowdfunding platform. The Kiva US program aims to expand access to capital (loans up to $10,000), reduce the cost of capital (0% interest loans), and connect entrepreneurs with a global community.

Milwaukee was the 11th Kiva City in the United States when the program officially launched in February 2015. Milwaukee Downtown, Business Improvement District #21 is a proud trustee of the program and is seeking small businesses and entrepreneurs to work with and endorse for the Kiva US loan program.

Learn More About KIVA US

Historic Preservation Tax Credits (HTC)

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) administers the Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC) program that applies to certified historic buildings. Under the program, owners of eligible buildings may receive a state income tax credit for up 20 percent of the qualified rehabilitated expenditures. Several downtown Milwaukee properties have been rehabilitated through the use of HTCs which has resulted in a significant tax base and job growth, as well as the further stabilization of historic buildings and neighborhoods. 

Learn more about the State of Wisconsin's Historic Preservation Tax Credit program here.

Commercial Revitalization Grant Application (Spanish)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Tax Credits and Incentives

Property owners can take advantage of tax credits and incentives for making improvements to their properties that make them ADA compliance and accessible. The IRS offers tax credits to small businesses for up to 50% or $10,250 of their eligible project cost expenditures for improving accessibility to their properties. In addition, the IRS offers a tax deduction to all businesses with a maximum deduction of $15,000 for barrier removal and other alterations to the property.

Learn More About ADA Tax Credits And Incentives

Partner Organizations

A key part of Milwaukee Downtown’s mission is collaboration with other organizations. Be it locally, nationally or globally, these ties are critically important in understanding trends and available resources.

The Department of City Development is the division responsible for business development, real estate development, planning, permitting and public housing. They assist Milwaukee Downtown and its constituents with grants and incentives, as well as design guidelines and zoning changes. 

WEDC helps businesses navigate through state and federal investment programs to fuel economic growth and relocation in Wisconsin. Among their resources are employment data, loans and tax credits, and workforce training grants. 

M7 is the regional development conglomerate of Kenosha County, Milwaukee County, Ozaukee County, Racine County, Walworth County, Washington County and Waukesha County. The partnership provides business incentives and resources to companies looking to open or expand their business in the seven-county region. 

The MMAC is a member-based organization that services the economic needs of the metro Milwaukee business community. The MMAC offers a comprehensive business network, a voice for business owners at the local, state and federal levels, and assistance with economic development.

The MEDC makes loans in partnership with banks to help finance the purchase, renovation or construction of a Milwaukee business. These loans tend to offer companies a lower interest rate and help to increase the feasibility of a project.

Supported by MMAC and M7, the FaB Milwaukee network strives to make the Milwaukee region a more attractive place for food and beverage manufacturers to conduct business. Its mission is to attract, retain and grow diverse businesses and talent through incentives, start-up assistance and workforce development.

The UW-Extension of Community & Economic Development provides research and reports on the health and vitality of Wisconsin communities. Milwaukee Downtown has partnered with the Extension on several analyses of the downtown Milwaukee marketplace. 

The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association provides leadership through citizen and professional planners in the development of vital communities by advocating excellence in community planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing the tools necessary to effect positive change. 

WDAC is a statewide organization established to facilitate the revitalization of Wisconsin downtowns as vibrant social and economic centers.

IDA connects downtown visionaries from around the globe to raise awareness of trends and share best practices to make urban centers healthy and vibrant places.