• Start or Grow a Business

  • Start a Business 

    Grow Your Business 

    Funding 

     

    Start a Business

    Thinking about starting a business? The Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce can help connect you with the resources and networks you need to take your business idea to the next level.

    Interested in locating in the City of Wisconsin Rapids? Grow Rapids can assist!

     

    The Heart of Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Boot Camp is an intensive learning program designed to train potential entrepreneurs. HoW Entrepreneurial Boot Camp aims to:

    • Train participants in the basic skills necessary to start or expand a business
    • Develop the entrepreneurial spirit
    • Create networks of new business owners
    • Provide support services of venture capital, business operation and planning, as well as marketing.

    This program will provide the framework necessary for participants to take ideas and develop them into workable business plans. Interested in attending or sponsoring the Entrepreneurial Boot Camp? Contact Melissa at 715.423.1830.

     

    Central Wisconsin SCORE provides free and confidential business advice and counseling tailored to meet the needs of individual small business owners and their personal objectives. It also offers workshops, for a modest fee, for both start-up and in-business entrepreneurs. SCORE volunteers are real-world professionals with time-tested knowledge who donate thousands of hours to help small businesses succeed. Central Wisconsin SCORE counselors are experts in such areas as accounting, finance, marketing, management and business plan preparation. They have assisted many clients in obtaining business loans.

     

    The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is an excellent resource for those interested in starting a business in Wisconsin. Among the many services available is the Business Development Assistance Center, which provides management assistance to small businesses, particularly first-time entrepreneurs. The office furnishes information on government regulations and financing alternatives and refers businesses to appropriate resources. Business formation information, helpful guides, and financing information are also available.

     

    The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at nearby UW-Stevens Point offers conferences, workshops, and seminars along with one-on-one counseling and customized training to help existing and new small businesses in Wisconsin.

     

    The U.S. Small Business Administration assists individuals interested in starting or expanding a small business with planning and preparation such as developing a business plan, marketing, financial management, and more.

     

    Women's Business Initiative Corporation  At WWBIC, we start with your dream. A dream of owning a business… or growing a business… or creating jobs for yourself and others.  To that we add our expertise in business planning, financing, and accessing resources that will assist you in making that dream a reality.  As a statewide organization, WWBIC works with both women and men by offering relevant business classes, business loans up to $250,000, assistance with your personal financial management, and connections to people who can make things happen.  We invite you to explore the resources we have here, or call us at 414-263-5450 to talk with a real person.

     

    Resources for entrepreneurs with disabilities Tips for people of all abilities to start a small business.

     

    Grow Your Business

    Growing your business takes planning, creativity and financing. There are many business development programs and resources available to assist with your business growth goals.

    Heart of Wisconsin BRE -- Valuing and Serving Our Business Community!

    The Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce BRE (Business Retention and Expansion) works to make your business more competitive and promotes business growth. Our BRE Team is made up of Economic/Business Development Professionals. Through one-on-one visits, the BRE TEAM works with Heart of Wisconsin companies on programs and opportunities to promote growth throughout the region.

    Our BRE Team will help your company in the following ways:

    • By gaining an understanding of the business community's view of local economy we will advocate for business friendly conditions and create programs that enhance the local economy resulting in growth for your business.
    • We will acquaint you with assistance available through various economic development programs
    • Our visit will improve communication and strengthen relationships between local/county government and you
    • Identify specific concerns and problems of the local businesses and provide swift, effective solutions
    • Identify workforce training and education needs so your business has the quality workforce it needs.

     

    Let's discuss how our BRE Team can connect your business to opportunities for growth! To schedule a Business Retention and Expansion visit, call the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce at 715.423.1830.

     

    One on one technical assistance and mentor resource teams are also available through the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce to help your business grow! Call 715.423.1830.

     

    The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at nearby UW-Stevens Point offers conferences, workshops, and seminars along with one-on-one counseling and customized training to help existing and new small businesses in Wisconsin.

    The U.S. Small Business Administration assists individuals interested in starting or expanding a small business with planning and preparation such as developing a business plan, marketing, financial management, and more.

    The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) enhances the success of Wisconsin's small to midsize manufacturers by providing expert and accessible services in the areas of growth and innovation, continuous improvement, training, export assistance, supply chain management and profitable sustainability.

     

    Funding

    Investigating funding options for your business? There are many channels available for you to raise capital. The Heart of Wisconsin offers revolving loan fund options and there are various other funding programs available that we can direct you to as well.

     

    Heart of Wisconsin Revolving Loan Funds the Heart of Wisconsin offers two Revolving Loan Funds which currently have funds available for business start-ups and expansions. One of the loan funds, is designed to be “gap” financing used in conjunction with bank financing to fill the gap necessary to make business development projects possible. It requires job creation and has a maximum loan amount of $20,000 per job created.

     

    The second loan fund offered through the Heart of Wisconsin is designed specifically for small business and provides loans of $25,000 or less for new business start-ups or expansions. This loan fund is designed as a “stand alone” loan program to assist those businesses only requiring micro-loan types of lending. This Small Business Revolving Loan fund is provided through the support of U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development. A revolving loan fund means that as the original funds are paid back, they are available for re-lending to other businesses in perpetuity creating new job opportunities for the area. Anyone interested in applying should contact Melissa Reichert at 422-4861.

    In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, disability, age, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

     

    For more information contact: Heart of Wisconsin 1120 Lincoln Street Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494-5229 Phone: 715.423.1830 FAX: 715.423.1865 Email: president@wisconsinrapidschamber.com

     

    Additional Resource: How to Get a Business Loan 

     

    Local Programs

    City of Wisconsin Rapids Downtown Facade Improvement Program:

    THE PURPOSE OF THE FACADE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM ("THE PROGRAM") IS TO IMPROVE THE APPEARANCE OF THE FAÇADES, THE STREET-FACING EXTERIORS OF A BUILDING, OF COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS LOCATED THROUGHOUT THE CITY OF WISCONSIN RAPIDS’ DOWNTOWN.

    THE PROGRAM SEEKS TO IMPROVE A COMMERCIAL BUILDING'S FACADE THAT FRONTS A COMMERCIAL CORRIDOR'S PUBLIC RIGHT-OF-WAY. THE PROGRAM WORKS TO ADDRESS ESPECIALLY DETERIORATED PROPERTY CONDITIONS AND TO GENERATE BUSINESS FOR DOWNTOWN WISCONSIN RAPIDS. APPROVED PARTICIPANTS OF THE PROGRAM ARE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE UP TO 50% OF TOTAL ELIGIBLE EXPENSES NOT TO EXCEED $20,000.00.

    ELIGIBLE FAÇADE IMPROVEMENT EXPENSES INCLUDE:

    • PAINTING

    • LIGHTING

    • WINDOWS

    • TILE • AWNINGS

    • CANOPIES

    • SIGNAGE (PERMANENT ASPECTS ONLY)

    REQUIREMENTS FOR PROGRAM SUBMISSION FOR PROJECT CONSIDERATION INCLUDE:

    • COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM AND ACCOMPANYING DOCUMENTS; AND

    • COMPLETED APPROVAL DOCUMENT FROM PROPERTY OWNER INDICATING UNDERSTANDING OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE PROGRAM.

    For complete information and application materials: City of Wisconsin Rapids Downtown Facade Program

    For more information contact: Melissa Reichert at the Heart of Wisconsin 1120 Lincoln Street Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494-5229 Phone: 715.423.1830 FAX: 715.423.1865 Email: president@wisconsinrapidschamber.com

    City of Wisconsin Rapids Tax Incremental Financing (TIF)

    Tax Incremental Financing can help a municipality undertake a public project to stimulate beneficial development or redevelopment that would not otherwise occur. It is a mechanism for financing local economic development projects in underdeveloped and blighted areas. Taxes generated by the increased property values pay for land acquisition or needed public improvements. The City currently has two active tax incremental districts: Contact Information: Adam Tegen, Director of Planning and Economic Development, City of Wisconsin Rapids, 444 West Grand Avenue, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495 Ph: 715.421.8225

    Community Development Block Grant for Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDBG-ED/RLF)

    Successful local development projects depend on effective partnerships. In pursuing their economic goals and objectives, many Wisconsin communities have used the CDBG-ED program to help businesses structure financial packages necessary for a start-up or to expand present operations. These loans, when repaid directly to the community, are used to capitalize a community Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The City of Wisconsin Rapids administers a revolving loan loan fund. The local contact for this program is Adam Tegen, Director of Planning and Economic Development, City of Wisconsin Rapids, 444 West Grand Avenue, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495 Ph: 715.421.8225

     

    State Programs

    Business Opportunity Loan

    A business must create new full-time positions and/or retain its existing full-time employment base in Wisconsin to qualify. Loan requests under $200,000 will be referred to the appropriate local or regional revolving loan fund first.  Call WEDC Regional Account Manager Tim Weber at 608. 210.6772 for more information.

     

    Business Planning Grants

    Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) 

    For entrepreneurs that would rather prepare their business plan in a more formal setting and for those businesses that fall outside the identified Industrial Clusters, Commerce offers the ETP program. Under this program, applicants are provided with a grant to cover up to 75% of the tuition costs associated with enrolling in an approved course at their local Small Business Development Center (SBDC).

     

    Tax Credits

    Wisconsin Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit

    Wisconsin is well known for our manufacturing leadership. And because innovations in this industry continue to create a competitive advantage for our state, we provide specific incentives to manufacturers to maximize their production here. Chief among them is the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit, which virtually eliminates the tax on income from manufacturing activity in the state.

    North Central Advantage Technology Zone Tax Credit

    The North Central Region of Wisconsin is designated as one of the eight Technology Development zones in the state. The Region includes Adams, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Wood, and Vilas Counties. This nine county region has been titled the North Central Advantage Technology Zone and is intended to promote the development and expansion of high-technology businesses by the issuance of Wisconsin income tax credits. To see if your business qualifies for potential income tax credits, call Jason Gruenenberg (715.421.8466).

    Angel Investment Tax Credit Program

    Angel investors and angel investor networks that invest in Qualified New Business Ventures may be eligible to claim an income tax credit on that investment, equal to 12.5% in each of two years.

     

    Economic Development Tax Credit

    How It Works:

    Tax credits are allocated for the creation or the retention of full-time jobs, and are based on wage range of the jobs, number of jobs to be created or retained, capital investment made by the business and training costs for new or current employees. If the applicant does not anticipate having a substantial Wisconsin income tax liability, these credits can be transferred to a third party.  Call WEDC Regional Account Manager Tim Weber 608.210.6772 for more information.

    Enterprise Development Zones

    Wisconsin’s Enterprise Zone Tax Credits are available to assist Wisconsin businesses that have major expansion projects or are relocating major business operations from other states to Wisconsin. Refundable tax credits can be earned through job creation, job retention, capital investment, employee training and supply chain purchases from Wisconsin vendors.

    Qualified New Business Venture

    Wisconsin’s Early Stage Business Investment Program and Qualified New Business Venture Program (QNBV) work together to spur investment in early stage Wisconsin businesses with the potential for significant economic impact and job growth. The programs are as simple as they are effective, creating mutually beneficial outcomes for investors, businesses and Wisconsin’s economy.

     

    Other Loans / Grants / Bonds

    Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs

    The Small Business Innovation research (SBIR) program is a set-aside program (2.5% of an agency's extramural budget) for domestic small business concerns to engage in Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization.

    Blight Elimination and Brownfields Redevelopment (BEBR) Grants

    The Blight Elimination and Brownfield Redevelopment Program (BEBR) provides grant funds to assist local governments, businesses and individuals with assessing and remediating the environmental contamination of an abandoned, idle or underused industrial or commercial facility or site.  Call WEDC Regional Account Manager Christine Berry 608.210.6855 for more information.

    Training Grants WEDC

    Wisconsin provides Training Grants to assist businesses in workforce retention and expansion into new markets and technology. The program provides grant funds to businesses to upgrade or improve the job-related skills of their full-time employees. Grant funds may be approved for eligible training provided to existing and new employees in full-time jobs. Call WEDC Regional Account Manager Christine Berry 608.210.6855 for more information.

    Training Grants Department of Workforce Development

    Wisconsin Fast Forward is a $15 million in grant program for employer-led, customized worker training projects. The intent is to provide essential assistance that cannot be met through an existing program. Grants will be awarded to maximize the impact of funds in catalyzing local collaboration and also encouraging the development of sustained pipelines that directly align with employer needs. The jobs of the 21st-century economy depend on these training programs.

    OSD recommends that employers with a particular workforce need complete an OSD inquiry form. These inquiries, along with analysis of labor trends and input from our strategic partners, will inform the development of future grant program announcements.

    Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) Program

    The Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) program provides 50% state grants to governing bodies, private businesses, and consortiums for road, rail, harbor and airport projects that help attract employers to Wisconsin, or encourage business and industry to remain and expand in the state.

    CAP Services' Business Development Program

    The CAP Services' Business Development Program includes technical assistance, gap financing, loan packaging and a lease/purchase program. CAP Services works with the Community Foundation of South Wood County to provide these services. For questions and information contact: Carla Lenk at 715.422.2581.

    Wisconsin Business Development Finance Corporation SBA 504 Loans

    The U.S. Small Business Administration established the 504 loan program to help businesses purchase or expand commercial real estate and acquire equipment while preserving working capital. A 504 loan puts such fixed-asset projects within reach for small businesses by requiring lower down payments than conventional financing and providing long-term, fixed-rate interest rates. It also reduces the risk to lenders through its structure as second mortgage financing.

    WHEDA Small Business Guarantee (SBG)

    SBG assists in the expansion or acquisition of an existing small business or for limited startup business opportunities. The maximum guarantee is the lesser of 80% or $200,000, for term debt, or the lesser of 80% or $80,000 for revolving working capital. Uses include: Purchase or improve land, buildings, equipment and inventory; Fund permanent and revolving working capital; Refinance existing debt that does not exceed 75% of the total project amount; and, Finance soft costs up to 5% of eligible project costs. Some of the qualifications include: Business is unable to obtain conventional financing at reasonable terms; Borrower is actively engaged in the business; Business employs 50 or fewer full-time employees; and, Business is located in Wisconsin.

    WHEDA Neighborhood Business Revitalization Guarantee (NBRG)

    NBRG helps existing businesses expand or relocate in urban communities. The program also targets developers who are developing or rehabilitating commercial real estate, including mixed use properties. The maximum guarantee is the lesser of 75% or $750,000, for term debt, or the lesser of 75% or $200,000 for revolving working capital. Uses include: Purchase or improve land, buildings, equipment and inventory; Fund permanent and revolving working capital; Refinance existing debt that does not exceed 75% of the total project amount; and, Finance soft costs up to 5% of eligible project costs. Qualifications include: Existing businesses with annual revenues under $5 million; or Experienced developers of commercial or mixed-use properties.

    Freight Railroad Infrastructure Improvement Program

    This program awards loans to businesses or communities wishing to rehabilitate rail lines, advance economic development, connect an industry to the national railroad system, or to make improvements to enhance transportation efficiency, safety, and intermodal freight movement.

    Industrial Revenue Bond (IRB) Program

    The WEDC grants the bonding authority (volume cap allocation) to cities, villages and towns to issue the bonds on behalf of a business.
     

    North Central Wisconsin Development Corporation (NCWDC) Community Development Loan Fund

    The Community Development Loan Fund provides gap financing to area businesses. A gap is the difference between what a private lender is willing to lend, and what a borrower needs. Typically, RRLF money is long-term, has low down payments, and carries lower interest rates than traditional private financing. RRLF's do not compete with banks for projects, but rather complement them and other programs in a total financial structure.

    North Central Wisconsin Development Corporation (NCWDC) Revolving Loan Fund

    The Regional Revolving Loan Fund (RRLF) provides gap financing to area businesses. A gap is the difference between what a private lender is willing to lend, and what a borrower needs. Typically, RRLF money is long-term, has low down payments, and carries lower interest rates than traditional private financing. RRLF's do not compete with banks for projects, but rather complement them and other programs in a total financial structure.

    Small Business Administration Loans

    • 7(a) Loan Program This is SBA's primary and most flexible loan program, with financing guaranteed for a variety of general business purposes. It is designed for start-up and existing small businesses, and is delivered through commercial lending institutions.
    • CDC/504 Loan Program This program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire fixed assets (such as real estate or equipment) for expansion or modernization. It is designed for small businesses requiring "brick and mortar" financing, and is delivered by CDCs (Certified Development Companies) private, non-profit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their communities.
    • Microloan Program This program provides small (up to $35,000) short-term loans for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and/or equipment. It is designed for small businesses and not-for-profit child-care centers needing small-scale financing and technical assistance for start-up or expansion, and is delivered through specially designated intermediary lenders (nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance).
    • Disaster Assistance Loan Program This program provides low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and most private non-profit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.

     

    Technology Development Fund (TDF)

    The Technology Development Fund (TDF) program was established to help Wisconsin businesses research and develop technological innovations that have the potential to provide significant economic benefit to the state.

    Technology Development Loan (TDL)

    The Technology Development Loan (TDL) program was established to assist Wisconsin businesses that have developed technological innovations that have the potential to provide significant economic benefit to the state. This program is designed to help the business commercialize the new technology.

     

    Export Loan Programs

    Export Loan Programs through are available through the U.S. Small Business Administration and provide exporters and lenders with a streamlined method of obtaining financing for loans and lines of credit up to $250,000. Lenders use their own credit decision process and loan documentation; exporters get access to their funds faster. SBA provides an expedited eligibility review with a response in less than 24 hours. Loans include:

    • Small Business Administration Export Express:

    Provides loan funds to businesses seeking to enter the exporting market.

    • Export Working Capital Program:

    Provides loans for short-term working capital for exporters.

    • International Trade Loans:

    Loan guarantees made to companies exporting to other countries or those that have been adversely impacted by foreign competition.

     

    Exporting Assistance

    Export Tech

    With 96 percent of the world’s population consuming products outside the U.S. and one billion people expected to join the global middle class in the next decade, Wisconsin companies are changing the way they think about their businesses. For many, exporting is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity.

    ExporTech™, an export acceleration program delivered in partnership by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP) and the UW-Stout Manufacturing Outreach Center (MOC), helps Wisconsin companies expand their global market reach through targeted export strategy development and execution.  Contact Brad Schneider at 608.210.6890

    Global Business Opportunities Grow in Wisconsin

    The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) stands ready to help you gain the insights you need to tap new international markets. Our International Market Access Grant and Collaborative Market Access Grant Programs help companies lay the foundation for a new export strategy or build upon existing export programs. The programs are easy to implement, with simple application and reimbursement processes, so you can focus your attention where it needs to be: on execution.  Call Monica Wahlberg 608.210.6734 for more information.

    Trade Ventures

    Personal contact creates business opportunities. But that’s not always easy when your target market is thousands of miles away. That’s where the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) comes in.

    Whether you’re looking for customers or distributors to help you expand your global reach (or both), WEDC’s targeted trade ventures will help you build the relationships necessary for increased international sales.

    As a member of a WEDC trade venture delegation, you will receive a high-level country briefing from WEDC’s market development director before commencing a well-organized tour of the country’s major markets. At each stop, you will participate in pre-arranged, customized meetings with companies whose needs or capabilities align with your export objectives.

     

    Specific Business Group Financing

    Linked Deposit Loan Subsidy

    Provides low-interest loans for businesses owned by women and minorities.

     

    For more information contact: Heart of Wisconsin 1120 Lincoln Street Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494-5229 Phone: 715.423.1830 FAX: 715.423.1865 Email: president@wisconsinrapidschamber.com