The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is helping 11 organizations develop and expand programs aimed at growing entrepreneurship throughout the state.

WEDC’s new Entrepreneurship Support pilot program is awarding the organizations $500,000 in grants to help fund programs that promote entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial education, mentorship and training, business development and financial services.

“Much of the economic growth the state has experienced over the last six years is a result of the efforts of the state’s entrepreneurs as they develop innovative products and services to meet the changing demands of their customers,” Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said in a release. “These grants will enable organizations throughout the state to provide more resources to support their local entrepreneurial community.”

Organizations were chosen from 32 applicants for the program, which provides matching grants to nonprofit organizations and communities,  said Aaron Hagar, WEDC vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“New business owners have a lot of needs.Some of this is on technical assistance.Some of this is on financial assistance. A lot of this is on connections and really figuring out on a local level where those gaps are and how we can best plug those gaps,” Hagar said.  “I think it could be huge. It’s the businesses. It’s also the communities in which the businesses reside in. The employees that they eventually hire. A lot of this is about extending opportunities to entrepreneurs in small rural communities but also in larger cities like Milwaukee and Madison.”

Through $75,000 in grant funding, the University of Wisconsin Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic will be able to support development in services related to patent guidance rather than cutting services, provide immigration guidance top at least 10 clients who are without services, and double the support provided to entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry.

“The three things that we have been unable or struggling with they create economic impact. They create companies that truly do grow jobs and generate revenue and the money from the grant will help us focus our energy on those,”  said Anne Smith, the clinic’s director.

Funding received by the clinic will help with three of their focuses, including food and beverage, immigration and patent practice.

“We wouldn’t be addressing the things that we are addressing or we would be doing them the way we have, which is a little as an afterthought, so it goes forward an inch by inch, and this will allow us to take a big leap forward,”  Smith said,

WEDC released the follow list of  grant recipients :

  • Center for Enterprise Development Inc., Fond du Lac, ($40,000) will create a milestone-based certification and grant program for Fond du Lac County entrepreneurs completing key business development steps.
  • Couleecap Inc., La Crosse, ($53,676) will provide a nine-week entrepreneurial development course for startups in La Crosse and Viroqua, support Viroqua Chamber Main Street’s “Pop Up Shop” program, and train additional course facilitators to expand the capacity for entrepreneurship support in the region.
  • Indianhead Community Action Agency, Ladysmith, ($43,646) will provide technical assistance and small loans to clients in two additional counties, and will expand its Small Business Academy for entrepreneurs.
  • Janesville Innovation Inc., Janesville, ($66,062) will develop a collaborative and coordinated coalition to serve entrepreneurs and accelerate business growth in Rock County.
  • Milwaukee 7, Milwaukee, ($60,000) will support the efforts of numerous project collaborators representing entrepreneurs, support organizations and academia to establish a strategic and entrepreneurial development initiative for the Milwaukee region.
  • Nicolet Area Technical College, Rhinelander, ($27,000) will expand entrepreneurial training, mentorship and support in six northern Wisconsin counties.
  • Oconto County Economic Development Corporation, Oconto, ($25,000) will implement elements of an entrepreneurship support strategy that includes a mentor network and ongoing coaching.
  • UW-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, Madison, ($75,000) will increase the level and breadth of its no-cost services provided to entrepreneurs statewide, particularly in the emerging food and beverage sector.
  • UW-Stout Center for Innovation and Development, Menomonie, ($60,000) will fund a statewide program that provides inventors with an opportunity to have their ideas evaluated for feasibility and market potential.
  • Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Madison, ($15,000) will expand its UpStart program for minority and women’s entrepreneurship.
  • UWM Research Foundation, Milwaukee, ($33,000) will pilot an “I-Corps for Health” program to develop and support innovative health care ventures in Wisconsin.

Source: WEDC grants help grow entrepreneurship programs across state – WISC