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Wisconsin Business Incentives

The Wisconsin economic development team includes many partners, from the Department of Commerce and other state agencies to local economic development officials, utilities, the state's technical college and university systems and other groups. Through these partners, a wide variety of business incentive programs are available. For more information on financial assistance and incentive programs, contact Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

Business Employees' Program (BEST)
Established by the Wisconsin Legislature to help small businesses in industries that are facing severe labor shortages upgrade the skills of their workforce. Under the BEST program, Commerce can provide applicants with a tuition reimbursement grant to help cover a portion of the costs associated with training employees. For further information call 1-800-HELP-BUS (1-800-435-7287).

Community Development Block Grant for Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDBG-ED/RLF)
Funded through the federal Small Cities CDBG Program, provides grants to communities to promote local job creation and retention. Local governments then lend the funds to businesses for start-up, retention, and expansion projects through grant funding. Funding levels depend on the number of jobs to be created or retained.

Customized Labor Training Fund
Provides training grants to businesses that are implementing new technology or production processes. The program can provide up to 50 percent of the cost of customized training if it is not available from the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Dairy 2020 Initiative
Awards grants for business and feasibility planning to dairy producers and processors considering a modernization or expansion project.

Early Planning Grant Program (EPG)
Helps individual entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout Wisconsin obtain the professional services necessary to evaluate the feasibility of a proposed start up or expansion.

Enterprise Development Zone Program
Promotes a business start-up or expansion on a particular site in any area of the state that suffers from high unemployment, declining income and property values, and other indicators of economic distress. The program offers tax credits for such activities as hiring disadvantaged workers and undertaking environmental remediation. Tax credits can be taken only on income generated by business activity in the zone. The maximum amount of tax credits per zone is $3 million.

Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin businesses to install cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus information, resources, and financial incentives help implement projects that otherwise would not be completed, or to complete projects sooner than scheduled. Its efforts help businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect the environment and control the state’s growing demand for electricity and natural gas.

Tax Incremental Financing (TIF)
Helps cities in Wisconsin attract industrial and commercial growth in underdeveloped and blighted areas. A city or village can designate a specific area within its boundaries as a TIF district and develop a plan to improve its property values. Taxes generated by the increased property values pay for land acquisition or needed public works.

Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs)
These are a means of financing the constructing and equipping of manufacturing plants and a limited number of non-manufacturing facilities. The municipality is not responsible for debt service on IRBs, nor is it liable in the case of default. IRBs are also exempt from federal income tax.

Major Economic Development Program
Offers low-interest loans for business development projects that create a significant economic impact.

Rural Economic Development Program
Makes individual awards up to $30,000 for feasibility studies and other professional assistance to rural businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Businesses that have completed their feasibility evaluations are eligible for individual micro loans up to $25,000 for working capital and the purchase of equipment.

Technology Development Fund
Helps businesses finance Phase I product development research. Firms completing Phase I projects can receive Phase II product-commercialization funding.

Wisconsin Transportation Facilities Economic Assistance and Development Program
Funds transportation facilities improvements (road, rail, harbor, airport) that are part of an economic development project.

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