MILWAUKEE — The pandemic has been hard on many small businesses, but the Greater Milwaukee Foundation announced loans to help local black and brown-owned businesses.
“Our statistics have shown that the rate of closure for small businesses, in particular small businesses of color, are going to be devastating,” said Kenneth Robertson, Chief Operating and Financial Officer at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
The foundation is moving $1 million to offer loans up to $50,000 at a 2-percent fixed interest with no payments due for the first year. The program focuses on black and brown-owned businesses in Milwaukee’s Harambee, Halyard Park, and Brewers Hill neighborhoods. Businesses in early childhood education, restaurant/hospitality, retail, and arts and culture will be prioritized.
“These are institutions, these are businesses that we need in our communities. They’re kind of the pulse of our communities,” Robertson said.
To illustrate the need, a report by the U.S. Small Business Administration says that only 11 percent of recent federal funding went to black-owned businesses.
“I think it’ll be really helpful to revitalize King Drive, get customers coming back,” said Rise and Grind Cafe’s business manager, Nikeisha Riesling.
Rise and Grind Cafe made several changes to survive the pandemic. They temporarily closed their main location on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and have been working mostly out of a secondary Sherman Phoenix spot.
Riseling thinks if approved, the new loan program could help them reopen their Harambee spot faster.
“It also makes a big difference for the community because the residents of the community want to see us open. So it’s kind of helping everybody all the same time,” Riseling said.
Applications are being taken until June 25. Click here for more information.