MILWAUKEE (May 28, 2020) –The Greater Milwaukee Foundation donated $100,000 to the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (the Chamber) to establish a COVID-19 Recovery Fund. This fund will provide recovery grants of up to $2,000 for small businesses in the community impacted by the pandemic.

Historically, African American small business owners have traditionally faced increased challenges such as smaller cash reserves and difficulty in securing business loans, and many are sole proprietors that are most likely ineligible for most (business) lending options. Federal and State support is valued, but alone is not enough to protect jobs, preserve businesses, and to provide the sense of community we’ve grown accustomed to being for one another.

The Chamber hopes to raise an additional $100,000 for the fund in order to help more community businesses. Said Ossie Kendrix, Chamber President & CEO, “On behalf of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, I am grateful to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for prioritizing the recovery of African American owned businesses as our community struggles to survive the pandemic and its aftermath. Many of our businesses have not been able to apply for or are still waiting for PPP or other federal assistance, so this Recovery Fund will be an infusion of desperately needed resources.”

The COVID-19 crisis is having a devastating impact on local small businesses. Federal and State support is valued, but alone is not enough to protect jobs, preserve businesses, and to provide the sense of community we’ve grown accustomed to being for one another.

Historically, African American small business owners have traditionally faced increased challenges such as smaller cash reserves and difficulty in securing business loans, and many are sole proprietors that are most likely ineligible for most (business) lending options. Thus, African American small business owners typically start with personal savings, family support, and ultimately, sweat and tears. A reopening strategy is imperative, along with recovery assistance. In order to provide true relief, African American owned small businesses need grant assistance to offset the wealth that has been denied by this pandemic, coupled with anti-Black policies that have made accessing capital an anomaly.

In the Greater Milwaukee area, the hardest hit sectors are travel and hospitality industries, and the retail sector. Through the establishment of the COVID-19 Recovery Fund we will provide support to African American owned for-profit small businesses and sole proprietorships in food and beverage services, personal care services, and retail trades.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, already totaling more than $100,000, the Chamber is working to grow the recovery fund to over $200,000. Community members, businesses, and/or organizations can contribute to the Recovery Fund, please click the link below to make a secured contribution. 

Requirements & Application

Encouraging locally owned African American businesses by addressing financial gaps that make reopening a challenge, the African American Chamber is offering recovery grants of up to 2K for businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • For-profit business located within the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area (Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties).
  • Business started operating prior to January 1, 2020 and was operating as of February 29, 2020
  • Business operates in the retail, service or hospitality industries.
  • Business has no more than five (5) full-time equivalent employees, including the owner.
  • Business has not received federal assistance through the Federal CARES Act.
  • Members AND Non-Members of the African American Chamber may apply for consideration.

What Recovery grants can be used for?

Business operating expenses (payroll, rent, inventory, utilities)

What’s the application process?

  • Application will go live on Monday, June 8, 2020
  • Deadline to apply for priority consideration is Sunday, June 14, 2020
  • Applicants that meet the eligibility criteria will be entered into a pool of qualified business applicants.
  • Grant recipients will be randomly selected from the pool based on available funding.
  • You will receive a call to review your application and secure additional information. It is important that you provide the best phone number where you can be reached. If you cannot be reached, your application will not move forward in the process.

When will grants be awarded?

The Chamber will begin notifying businesses of awards the week of June 29, 2020. Awards will be notified via email if you are approved for the recovery grant. At that time, disbursement of grant will be discussed.

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