Small businesses and family farms are the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy.
After the pandemic hit, I knew we had to do the right thing and help small businesses maintain their workforce, prevent layoffs, and create new jobs. That’s why I launched the Main Street small business grant program and directed almost a billion dollars in grants and economic relief to tens of thousands of small businesses and over fifteen-thousand family farms.
In communities across the state, small businesses ranging from flower shops to local bars and restaurants are benefiting from my Main Street small business grant program – you’ll likely know many of them in your community.
So far, more than 2,000 small businesses have received $10,000 grants that they can use however they want — whether it’s buying inventory, building out a new brick and mortar location, hiring new workers, paying rent, or investing in new services.
While you won’t hear this in the conflict-driven reporting of the mass media, Wisconsin now has one of the lowest unemployment rates in our history at 3% – that’s one of the lowest in the country too – and one of the highest labor participation rates in the nation.
These numbers are good, but I know that we must continue to improve.
When I visit Main Streets across Wisconsin, I’m incredibly proud to see vibrant small businesses benefiting from these crucial grants. In Washburn, the city’s 15 vacant commercial spaces have been whittled down to only four, and in downtown Racine, more than 30 small businesses have opened.
When I stopped in Oconto, I heard from the owner of The Shop on Main about how they’ve been able to remodel more of the building they moved into and expand seating for customers. In Fond du Lac, I visited The Cellar District, which is a new restaurant in a converted chapel that sells farm-to-table dishes and relies on local Wisconsin vendors.
From La Crosse to Milwaukee, Washburn to Waukesha, and in downtown communities in every corner of the state, our Main Street grant program is powering a small business renaissance.
But not only am I focused on delivering for small business owners, I’m also committed to doing the right thing and building opportunities for workers and helping fill job openings across the state. That’s why I’ve worked to create jobs, apprenticeships, and training programs that are helping workers switch careers, learn new skills, and thrive in our state’s innovative economy.
Our state has long struggled with workforce shortages, and the pandemic sure hasn’t helped. But as governor, it’s my responsibility to solve issues with common sense solutions. We can’t kick the can down the road anymore, we must fill empty jobs by empowering workers and investing in small businesses.
In 2021 I led Wisconsin through one of the most innovative jobs creation periods in state history — and we did it by focusing locally. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating jobs and each community is facing unique challenges. That’s why, as governor, I’ve been listening to community leaders and investing funds directly into local areas.
One innovative program that I’m especially proud of is our Worker Advancement Initiative, which will create skills training and job opportunities for more than 2,300 Wisconsinites across the state. This cutting edge program is teaching skills and providing opportunities to people who have lost their previous job.
In Appleton, I had the privilege of sitting down with small business leaders to hear directly from them on what’s working and what needs fixing. I was proud to hear how Wisconsin is a strong place to do business, but I also know that we still have a lot of work to do to help businesses and fill jobs.
Growing up in Plymouth, I learned to be a common sense problem solver and never back away from challenges — no matter how hard they may seem. Creating jobs, opening businesses, and filling openings isn’t easy work, but as governor, I’m going to keep doing what’s right for small businesses and workers — that’s a promise.
Tony Evers is the Governor of the State of Wisconsin. Learn more about him and his plans for the state at www.TonyEvers.com