WEDC, 3 Nonprofits to Invest $1M in Wisconsin-based Tech Startups

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) says it’s teaming up with three nonprofits on an initiative that will invest $1 million in early-stage technology businesses in Wisconsin.

The goal is to provide grant funding and loans to startups headquartered in Wisconsin, and to help them advance products and services they’re developing beyond the proof-of-concept stage, WEDC says. (Disclosure: WEDC is a supporter of Xconomy in Wisconsin, but our coverage is determined independently by our editors.)

WEDC says it has awarded a $500,000 grant to support the initiative. That amount will be matched by three Wisconsin-based nonprofits: Community Assets for People, First American Capital Corp., and Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. All three are members of Invest in Wisconsin, whose mission is to provide capital to people and communities in the Badger State that have encountered difficulty raising money from venture investors or banks.

Recipients of grants and loans allocated as part of the initiative will likely use the money to fund operations or buy work-related equipment, WEDC says.

In addition to cash, WEDC and Invest in Wisconsin will provide companies with technical assistance; mentorship from professionals who have worked in IT, agriculture, and other industries; and pro bono legal and accounting services.

The state grant for the initiative comes through WEDC’s Capital Catalyst program, which provides matching grants to organizations and municipalities that in turn fund high-growth startups and other small businesses.

WEDC’s announcement follows other recent pledges to support entrepreneurship in Wisconsin. Northwestern Mutual and Aurora Health Care, two of the Milwaukee area’s economic anchors, each plan to invest $5 million in local startups over the next five years. And last month, Microsoft and the NFL’s Green Bay Packers said they plan to launch a startup accelerator and venture capital fund, which will be based in a new building next to the team’s home field.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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