State offers businesses thousands to fill vacant commercial properties

MADISON, Wis. — A state funded grant program offering thousands of dollars to business owners and nonprofits to move into vacant commercial properties will begin accepting applications on Monday.

Governor Tony Evers announced ‘Main Street Bounceback‘ earlier this year in April allocating 50 million dollars of state’s funds received under President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to the program.

It’s meant to encourage new or existing businesses to move into vacant storefronts in downtowns and other commercial centers around the state by providing  $10,000 to those deemed eligible.

In Madison’s downtown, of the 350 commercial properties 46 are vacant with at least 20 on state street alone.

“Had it not been for the pandemic, had it not been for this turmoil, chaos maybe we wouldn’t be here,” said Jason Fields, President of the Madison Region Economic Partnership.

MadREP is tasked with sifting through applications and administering 4 million dollars of those funds in Dane and seven other surrounding counties.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said these grant dollars are not just a win for business owners.

“They mean that landlords can get more tenants, and they mean that all of us in the community can have more businesses, more locally owned businesses to support, to shop at, to experience,” she said.

Though applications won’t open until Aug 9th Fields said interest in the program has already begun.

“One of the ladies said, ‘Jason this will be a make or break point for me. I’m opening up a new business and this will be a catalyst for my success.”

The program is scheduled to run through to June of next year.