Greater Milwaukee Foundation Provides $ 1 Million in Small Business Loans for North Side Businesses


Ellen Gilligan, President and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. (Credit: Jim Moy)

the Greater Milwaukee Foundation provides $ 1 million in low-interest loans to small businesses in three neighborhoods on the North Coast of Milwaukee.

Starting today, businesses in Harambee, Halyard Park and Brewers Hill can apply for a loan of up to $ 50,000 at a fixed interest rate of 2%, with no interest or principal repayment for 12 months. first months. The proceeds can be used for working capital, normal operating expenses, debt refinancing and more, GMF said.

ThriveOn loans will prioritize Black and Maroon owned businesses.

“For many small businesses – and the people they employ and serve – access to capital is extremely urgent right now,” said Ken Robertson, executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of GMF . “COVID-19 has dramatically reduced revenues, and black and Maroon-owned businesses, which already faced systemic barriers to investment, are at particular risk of shutting down. The toll of such losses on the fabric of Milwaukee neighborhoods and entrepreneurs would be devastating. We expect our ThriveOn loans will support at least 20 small businesses this year as we intentionally work to make Milwaukee’s economic recovery fairer.

The GMF cited a recent national poll indicating that 75% of all small businesses – and 86% of business owners of color – remain concerned about the impact of the virus on their business.

The foundation said it would prioritize four areas with its loans:

  • Early childhood education, where 30% of Milwaukee providers have closed since COVID-19 began.
  • Foodservice / hospitality, where statewide jobs in the industry remain down almost 17% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Retail, where COVID-19 has exacerbated existing challenges for physical stores.
  • Arts and Culture, with Wisconsin organizations reportedly losing $ 29 million in revenue.

ThriveOn Small Business Loans are part of GMF’s $ 30 million, 5-year commitment as part of its impact investing program. To date, the foundation has invested $ 12 million under the program, including $ 10 million for the ThriveOn King restoration and renovation project and a $ 1 million investment in Gateway Capital to support pre-startups. returned to Milwaukee. He also pledged $ 800.00 for the redevelopment effort of the block bordered by West Wisconsin Avenue.

“For Milwaukee’s economy as a whole to thrive, black and brown owned businesses must thrive, but with the pandemic amplifying existing racial inequalities, many are fighting just to survive,” said Ellen Gilligan, president. and CEO of GMF. “Since we know that structural racism makes it harder for black and brown businesses to receive capital, we can help address a need unmet by traditional lenders. This loan opportunity is a reimagined form of philanthropy that meets the community it is in and aims to stabilize lives and livelihoods, bringing us closer to becoming a Milwaukee for all.

The deadline to apply for a ThriveOn Small Business Loan is June 25 and disbursements will begin in August. More information is available at


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