Discover Guide

COVID-19 Relief

The Oconto County Economic Development Corporation has created this page to anchor important information for our businesses amid quickly changing conditions and unprecedented measures put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting small business owners is what we do, and that is more critical than ever at this time. Below you can find information and resources that could be useful. 

1. We're All in - Small Business Grant
Small businesses in Wisconsin often operate on razor-thin profit margins and hold very little cash in reserve, which makes weathering the effects of a global pandemic particularly challenging. Complicating matters for these small businesses seeking federal or other financial assistance is that they often lack the financial relationships required, or are otherwise ineligible, to qualify for these programs. WEDC’s We’re All In Small Business Grant is designed to help these small businesses get back on their feet while also encouraging adoption of best practices to keep employees, customers and communities safe.

A basic program description and overview of eligibility criteria appear below. Find more information on the frequently asked questions page.

Funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the We’re All In Small Business Grant Program will provide $2,500 to 30,000 Wisconsin small businesses to assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.

To be eligible, businesses must:
  • be a Wisconsin-based, for-profit business;
  • employ 20 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, including the owner;
  • earn greater than $0 but less than $1 million in annual revenues; and
  • have been in business in February 2020.
The online grant application will be accessible for one week from 8 a.m. Monday, June 15, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 21. A link to the application will be posted on this page. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will make clear on this webpage and through all of its communications channels when the application period begins and ends.

Applicants are encouraged to prepare for the one-week application period by gathering the following required documents:
  • 2018 or 2019 federal tax return for business (If you started your business in 2020, you are not eligible for this grant). Applicable tax returns are:
  1. IRS form 1065 Partnership Return (no K-1s required)
  2. IRS form 1120 Corporation Return (no schedules required)
  3. IRS form 1120S S Corporation Return (no K-1s required)
  4. IRS form 1040 (sole proprietors) and the following:
  • Schedule C, Profit and Loss from Business
       5.Signed W-9 form available at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf
A letter or email of acknowledgement from a community organization indicating your business was in operation in February 2020. The letter or email can be from any of the following:
  • Chamber of commerce
  • Main Street or Connect Communities organization
  • Local business improvement district
  • Neighborhood economic development association
  • Local economic development organization
  • County economic development organization
  • Municipality, including tribal government
  • County
  • Local bank, credit union or community development financial institution
  • Regional UW Small Business Development Center
  • U.S. Export Assistance Center – Wisconsin
  • Regional economic development organization
  • Regional Planning Commission
  • Trade association
Sample text for a letter or email can be found here. An electronic letter submitted to you via email is acceptable.

Contact us Today! 

2. Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

Under this program:
  • Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
Click here to learn more. 

WBA PPP Loan Forgiveness Guide - Toolkit for Small Business Borrowers with Employees as of April 23, 2020 The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides for forgiveness of up to the full principal balance and accrued interest for loan proceeds used for covered purposes so long as employee head count and compensation levels were also maintained during the covered period. This toolkit is intended to help provide borrowers with information and calculations related to the forgiveness phase of the PPP program, and is current as of the date of publication (4/23/2020). Since guidance is still pending, it is subject to change at any time. 

3. Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance

Economic Injury Disaster Loan which includes an emergency grant of up to $10,000 to be made within three days of application. The new online form does include a request for your bank account information to deposit funds. This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19. Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries. More information on eligibility is available, click here!

These grants may be used for:
  • providing paid sick leave to employees unable to work due to the direct effect of the COVID–19;
  • maintaining payroll to retain employees during business disruptions or substantial slowdowns;
  • meeting increased costs to obtain materials unavailable from the applicant’s original source due to interrupted supply chains;
  • making rent or mortgage payments; and
  • repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses. 
These grants do not have to be repaid.
Its important to not use this program and the Paycheck Protection Program loan for the same expenses in order to obtain forgiveness. Best bet – use the advance to pay for nonpayroll related expenses.
The application for the grant and Economic Injury Disaster Loan is the same one that is used for a working capital loan up to $2 million. Going through the process and the application it does not ask for a loan amount. Remember, there is up to $10,000 forgiven whether or not you take a loan out. The terms are 3.75% for businesses and 2.7 for not-for-profits over 30 years with the assets of the business serving as collateral.
Apply here!

4. Wisconsin Unemployment 

If you have become unemployed or partially unemployed, you may apply for unemployment benefits online. File weekly claims to receive benefit payments after requirements are met.

As a result of Governor Evers Emergency order you do not need to do a work search during the Governor's declared emergency. The Department is in the process of making the necessary updates. No action is needed on your part regarding the work search.

Unemployment COVID-19 Public Information - FAQS 

5. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

COVID-19 Business Resources
The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented challenges to all types of Wisconsin businesses whose operations are impacted by disruptions to their supply chains, withering demand for their products and worker unavailability resulting from sustained social distancing.

We are here to provide the latest, best information to our clients and the citizens of Wisconsin on resources aimed at maintaining the vitality of the companies upon which our economy depends. As the volume of inquiries through our phone lines and website prevents us from responding individually to people as we would like, we invite you to visit our website regularly. We plan to update the directory as new information and resources become available.

Included are resources available to Wisconsin businesses from WEDC and other local, state and federal agencies.

Small business owners are encouraged to work with their lenders to address the financial challenges they are facing as a result of COVID-19.

6. Reopen Guidelines for Businesses

Wisconsin businesses look forward to a future when they can return to providing the products and services their customers need and crave, unencumbered by threats to the health of their employees and those they serve. Working toward that future will require the gradual adoption of new business practices that reflect the evolving reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and our success in mitigating the effects of this unprecedented global health emergency.

With input from national and state health and industry experts and in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and our regional economic development partners, WEDC has compiled a series of industry-specific documents to help you get back to business while taking the necessary precautions to maximize safety. Following these guidelines will help us all get Wisconsin’s economy back on track.

You are encouraged to bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates to guidelines and the addition of new industry documents.

Additional Resources: Wisconsin State Agencies