Business Resources

On this page you will find the following important items:

  • Paycheck Protection Program-Loan Forgiveness Application NEW
  • Governor Tony Evers announces the “We’re All In” Program and Grants
  • COVID Cash
  • Latest Governmental Orders affecting small businesses
  • CDC Guidance for small business operations
  • Regional source of support: The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center
  • Unemployment Compensation for Self-Employed Individuals
  • Payment Protection Act
  • Farm operator and laborer information
  • Beware of Scammers!
  • Wisconsin Emergency Orders Affecting Tennants and Landlords
  • Federal/state/regional programs available to assist local small businesses
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act and it’s effects on employers

This information is evolving rapidly and is based on our current understanding of the programs. It can, and likely will, change. Please do not rely solely on this information for your financial decisions. As always, talk with your local financial institution for detailed guidance.

The Small Business Administration has released the Loan Forgiveness Application for the PPP Program

The form and instructions inform borrowers how to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans, consistent with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  SBA will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities. There will also be online video’s available to assist with this coming shortly. We will share those education materials here as they become available. To access the application and the SBA website click here.

We Are All In Initiative-Wisconsin Programs

Gov. Tony Evers today announced $75 million in assistance for small businesses as part of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s We’re All In initiative, a comprehensive effort help Wisconsin’s small businesses get back on their feet and support best practices to keep businesses, consumers, employees and communities safe. Funded largely by federal dollars received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this initiative will provide direct assistance to small businesses most impacted by the duration and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. These $2,500 cash grants will assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages, and inventory. Businesses will be able to apply for grant assistance in early June. When that application process is available I will share that here. 

The We’re All In initiative will include:

1. Grants in the amount of $2,500 to small businesses with 20 or fewer FTEs impacted by COVID-19 that have not already received WEDC COVID-19 assistance. Up to thirty thousand businesses may receive grants. More details about the program will be available later this month with businesses able to apply for grant assistance in June.
2. A series of guides for businesses looking to implement best practices to keep employees, customers, and communities safe throughout the COVID-19 crisis. These guides are an essential part of the We’re All In program and were developed in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Department of Tourism, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Department of Safety and Professional Services, as well as industry leaders and public health experts throughout the state. They are found on WEDC’s website at
3. Ethnic Minority Emergency Grants, which provide $2 million in grants for ethnically diverse Wisconsin micro-businesses who suffered losses due to the pandemic. The grants are aimed at sole proprietorships or businesses with five or fewer employees that have not received assistance under either SB 20/20 program or SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. One thousand grants of $2,000 each will be administered in partnership with Wisconsin’s 19 ethnic and minority chambers of commerce. More details are available at

I know there are several small businesses out there who have applied, but have not received, any of the COVID-19 assistance from existing programs. This may well be an opportunity to finally get some financial relief for those.


Southwest Partners, in cooperation with a special group of strategic partners announce the COVID CARING CASH program to help stimulate local area businesses during this pandemic and difficult time for communities and economy. So, what exactly is COVID CARING CASH? The sponsors of this program have donated cash as a matching gift to any individual that choses to participate and helping the local business of their choice. The cards are plastic cards like shown below which have a $5.00 value. If you purchase $25 the sponsors have made $10 additional cards available for free as a gift and thank you for helping to encourage and keep our local businesses going.

Any business can accept the cards and then be reimbursed for them by submitting weekly to Southwest Partners for payment on Fridays.

The cards are sold in $5 increments and one unique part is that they do not offer cash back, so we are asking the community to plan their purchasing accordingly. The reason is that we are trying to add money to the local economy and not take it from the businesses and we felt like $5 is a pretty usable size. If you purchase something for $7 use a card and $2 etc. Southwest Partners so appreciates the communities understanding and this also allows us to insure now more than ever that those favorite local restaurants or salons or stores or repair shops will be there for all of us to continue to enjoy once we are post COV-19.
Cosgrove said that “the greater Richland Area Community is absolutely the most supportive and giving of any community in the State or Country and we are sure that we can work together and be sure we all make it out the other side together as the greater Richland Area Community!” Any business is welcome to participate and if they would like to get a poster stating they accept the cards please call 608-647-8842 x 7202 or 608-604-7022 and we will get you the information and the signage.

Sponsors joining Southwest Partners for this program include; Richland County Bank, The Peoples Community Bank, Community First Bank, WCCU Credit Union, Capital Wealth Advisory Group, Wallace Cooper & Elliott Insurance, The Shopping News, The Richland Observer, WRCO Radio, Walsh Ace Hardware.

The cards state that they will expire on 09-01-2020 to insure they get used now and in the near future which will be most critical for these small local businesses. Cards will be sold until the matching funds are used up there is currently funds to match $15,000 matching purchases which translates to an overall $52,500 boost for the local economy.

Anyone or any entity that would like to join in and help keep this going by joining the sponsors can contact any Southwest Partners Executive Team member or call 608-604-7022 to find out how they can add to the fund and increase the available match.

Expanded Opportunities for Certain Nonessential Businesses

Governor Evers expanded those allowed operations to include some non-essential businesses. The Emergency Order, signed today by Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, allows nonessential businesses to do curbside drop-off of goods and animals. This will allow businesses like dog groomers, small engine repair shops, upholstery businesses, and others to safely open. Today’s order also allows outdoor recreational rentals, such as boats, golf carts, kayaks, ATVs, and other similar recreational vehicles. Additionally, automatic or self-service car washes would be able to operate. All of these businesses must operate free of contact with customers by providing payment options online or over the phone, enact proper disinfecting practices, and operations must be able to be performed by one staff member. To see that complete order check out this link:

You can also see the specific order at this link:

Small Business Guidance as we re-open businesses

The CDC released a checklist of sorts to help small businesses prepare for the effects of COVID-19 as we emerge from the “Safer at Home” orders. Also helpful are steps to protect employee”s health as businesses open to the public in the future. You can see that information here.

The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center

The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center is available to help in many different ways. They can assist with navigating the different support programs that have been rolled out, financing for a new or growing business, budgeting within a business, or launching a new business. I believe if you have applied for any program such as the Payment Protection Program or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, please contact them for help if that comes to a stand-still or you become frustrated. They are both very knowledgeable and appear to have the most experience with these programs of anyone I have talked to. Do not hesitate to contact them, they are extremely approachable and invested in nurturing small businesses in Southwest Wisconsin specifically:

Kristi Smith                                                                                     Jason Schleip

(608) 287-9464                                                                              (608) 381-2352            

You can also check out their website at: Again, do not hesitate to use them as a resource.

Here is an excellent summation of the different programs that are available through the Small Business Administration, we suggest you click here to see that information.

Unemployment Compensation for Self-Employed Individuals

Through the CARES Act the federal government has extended Unemployment Compensation to self-employed individuals, including farmers affected by the COVID-19 virus. This will be administered through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and is still in development.

UPDATE: The application portal for this program has been opened. To apply for this program click here.

Payment Protection Program Update:

The CARES Act was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Trump on Friday 03/27.  The details of this act and the Payment Protection Program are becoming much more clear, some important details:

  • The House and Senate have approved an additional $60 Billion to fund the PPP Program since the first $300 Billion had already been allocated. Local lending institutions are again accepting new applications.  If  you have completed the application process already, or you are considering applying for the program, we encourage you do so immediately.
  • Local lenders are accepting applications from existing clients for this program. You must have an existing relationship with a lender to apply, as limited as a business checking account with most lenders. If you have a business account with PayPal, they are also accepting applications.
  •  Also available to Farms, 501c3 entities, self-employed, freelance workers, and “Gig Economy” operators (Uber, Lyft, etc.)
  • Fees for the loan are deferred between 6 and 12 months
    • The interest rate for this loan has been updated by the SBA to be between 1% and .5% with a 2 year maturity.

There is a “Loan Forgiveness” aspect to the Payment Protection Program, eventually “allowable expenses” will be forgiven. Basic allowable expenses may include:

  • Amounts spent on payroll, also reportedly the amount of owner’s salary
  • One requirement to forgive portions of the loan, 75% of the forgiven portion must be for payroll purposes
  • Benefits expenses to the business for employees (insurance premiums, retirement savings match, etc)
  • Rent on a leasing agreement, most mortgage interest
  • Utilities, insurance

We encourage you check this link out for a more complete explanation of the Payroll Protection Program from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Here is a very good Frequently Asked Questions piece about the Payroll Protection Program, you can access that information here.

However, the lending community is just beginning to learn about the application procedure for this program.  Applications will not be accepted until Local lenders I have talked to this morning are asking their clients do two things:

  1. Gather together tax records, payroll records, and other financials from your business in preparation of the application process. You can get a head start on the application process by working through this sample application form click here to see that form. Use this as your sloppy copy, then when you meet with a loan officer you are assured you have all of the information necessary.
  2. Reach out to your lender either by e-mail, or a voice phone call, (email preferred) to get into the que for the application process. (They are still learning the details, the program was approved just this past Friday, it will take some time to even have the details delivered to them) When you contact your lending partner just let them know you want to apply for the program and ask them to follow-up with you to proceed at the earliest availability

You can find a clear basic summary of the CARES Act here.

Farm and Farm Laborer Information

Farmers and farm laborers negatively affected by the COVID-19 virus may be eligible for several programs. Farm operators can apply for the Payroll Protection Program and Unemployment Compensation if they have lost employment due to COVID-19.

A point of emphasis for all farm operators! Check in with the USDA Service Center or Farm Service Agency for other potential programs that may be available. You can find that information online at this link.

You may also visit the Richland County Farm Service Agency at:

(608) 647-8874 ext 2

Beware of scammers out there!

It’s sad but hardly surprising to hear that scammers are also busy.  Here are scams we have heard of in just the last 24 hours:

  • A business owner told a TV station that she received an email after applying for an SBA Disaster Loan with a false loan number and asking for IRS tax info to complete the loan application.
  • Another small business owner received an email stating she needed to provide her credit card number and $97 to complete the loan application.
  • Another business owner told us on one of our webinars that she was contacted saying that she had been pre-approved and could pay down a deposit to complete the process.

Take note:

  1. There is no immediate deadline for an EIDL application. 
  2. It does not cost anything to apply, get the papers together, no credit card is needed, etc. 
  3. The SBA does NOT ask for money to complete the loan application! 
  4.  If the SBA does contact you for additional information, we will NOT ask you to email it!  All sensitive personal information will be collected through our secure online portal or dropbox.

Please be wary of scammers. When in doubt, contact the SBA‘s Disaster Office for confirmation of any requests that you receive.

By Phone: 1-800-659-2955 (TTY/TDD: 1-800-877-8339)

By Email:

Federal/state programs available to assist local small businesses

2 Federal small business financial relief programs are available, they are significantly different from each other. The Small Business Administration, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and the Wisconsin Small Business Center are the entities offering the EIDL Program or support with it.

  • Small Business Administration (SBA)- Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Economic Injury Disaster Loan

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which provided additional assistance for small business owners and non-profits called the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

UPDATE: The response to this program has been overwhelming and there have been struggles to implement the program. Here is the word we received regarding processing of these applications from the SBA. The timeline for delivery of this program is at a minimum 2-3 weeks from the original estimate of 3 days.

“Please inform your local applicants that the EIDL applications are being processed on a first-in, first-out basis and we still estimate that it will take 2-3 weeks to approve an application. Further, the initial disbursement of funds will be within 5 business days of approval. Regarding the Loan Advances—your constituent will be notified by SBA regarding disbursement. The SBA is working to process these as quickly as possible. Should your constituent’s EIDL application be declined for any reason, they will have 6 months to request reconsideration.”

Applicants will be notified through the email address they provided if any additional information is needed. For any questions related to their loan application, applicants should contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. There is a streamlined application at this link.

A few items of information that will help:

#1. Apply online and apply now. You can mail in an application but this process will take some time even by an online application process. The link to do so is on the page above.

#2. Unsecured loans are available up to $25,000 and secured loans are available above that based on need.

#3. No local credit unions or banks will be administering these loans, these loans will be made through the Small Business Administration.

#4. They need to measure businesses lost income to determine the amount of need. They require your most recent tax return to determine this need. IF you are requesting a loan of less than $500,000, they can use the 2018 tax return as it is my experience many businesses file extensions and likely haven’t filed the 2019 taxes.

#5. If you think you might need this assistance, start the application process now and complete all of the steps necessary. You can reduce the amount you are requesting, increase the amount, or stop the process completely later on, but you want to get into the process as soon as possible to get it moving forward.

#6. Loans are made with 15 or 30-year repayment schedules at a 3.75%interest rate, this rate is set by Congress.

#7. This is an unprecedented situation, the resources of the Small Business Administration are being taxed to the maximum. You may have to try more than once to get into the application system or get it to move on to the next page. When working online the system will save your work as you go. They stressed when you start an application DO NOT LOSE YOUR LOGIN INFORMATION!! They are not able to change passwords or login info, you would have to start over new.

There is an excellent Frequently Asked Questions section at the page I referenced above with the online enrollment information, again you can get all of that information here:

  • WEDC’s Small Business 20/20 Program, featured in recent news reports, works with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to distribute to their qualifying clients. The CDFIs, not WEDC, will provide grants to businesses directly. Funds from the SB20/20 program will be distributed by participating CDFIs to their current clients. Businesses who are not currently CDFI clients are not eligible to access these funds, but WEDC will work to expand access to funding through other programs as more resources become available. You can read more about this program and other assistance available to Wisconsin business owners here.

Southwest Regional Planning Commission Revolving Loan Fund

The Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission collaborates with communities and organizations to build capacity within Southwestern Wisconsin, serving as advocates for its residents. They have assisted in the development of many business opportunities in Southwestern WI. The Regional Revolving Loan Fund was created to assist business development and expansion projects that address unmet regional and community needs in the southwest Wisconsin area. This fund was capitalized with federal funds and is intended to serve as gap financing for business ventures.  Through their Regional Revolving Loan Fund, they do offer small loans for working capital. You can check that information out at this link:

This page includes the loan application documents and basic information. If you would like additional assistance on this program contact Kate Koziol. or at (608) 342-1751.

BE AWARE, there are scammers operating out there. There is already a report of a local Small Business owner receiving a suspicious text offering “Disaster Loans”. The funding opportunities listed above will not contact you without you reaching out to them first.

The representatives for the City of Richland Center.  The meeting agendas for the City Council. The government of Richland County.  The meeting schedule of the county board and its committees.  The townships of Richland County are listed on this web page with their respective township clerk’s name.  The county board supervisors district maps. The township maps of Richland County. The 4 school districts in Richland County are as follows: Richland Center, Ithaca, Kickapoo, and Weston.

State Wide Resources

Federal/Nationwide Resources


What is an essential business activity versus nonessential?

There are a couple very good resources to determine if an activity qualifies as essential or non-essential.

From the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, check this link.

Governor Tony Evers press conference regarding the Safer at Home Order, click here.