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Financial and business development resources

Many people who ask for environmental assistance also have questions about monetary or other resources that are available to help them start or expand their business. You will most likely have to work with a lender to finance your new business or business modification. There are a number of organizations with resources to assist small businesses with developing their new business, not only with financing but also training and other types of support.

Getting started

  • Having a business plan is key to accessing funding, so you should make sure to have one prior to approaching a lender. SCORE is a network of volunteers who mentor small business entrepreneurs. Mentors can help you write your business plan, among other things.
  • The UW School of Business, Small Business Development Center also offers assistance with business plans, training, as well as one-on-one assistance through their helpline, the Wisconsin Business AnswerLine: 800-940-7232.
  • The Wisconsin One Stop Business Registration Portal guides startups though the process of registering with different state agencies such as the Departments of Financial Institutions, Revenue and Workforce Development.
  • WWBIC has programs to provide training for both the novice and experienced small business owner. Classes include topics such as: business planning, marketing, estate planning, repairing credit, obtaining women and minority business certification. Many classes are available in Spanish. They have offices in Milwaukee (414-263-5450) and Madison (608-257-5450).
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides guarantees to lenders financing new business startups to which they would not otherwise loan. Work with your bank or credit union. They will get SBA involved if appropriate. (SBA’s Lender Match tool can also help connect you with SBA-approved lenders in your community. SBA also has a wide variety of additional resources and can connect you with the tools you need to succeed, including counseling and business skill training. SBA has district offices in Madison and Milwaukee. has contact information for the Wisconsin offices as well as additional information about their various programs.
  • For an overview of things to consider before working with a lender, see Consumer Affairs’ article “How to get a business loan".

Economic development assistance

There are groups in Wisconsin that can help you find a combination of funding resources, including use of local revolving loan funds, SBA loans, etc. Many of these focus on starting or expanding your business, and some loan programs address expenses to comply with environmental requirements. Other groups can help you find new markets for your products or services.

  • The Wisconsin Business Development (WBD) Finance Corporation can help through their TEAM network. They have a number of offices throughout the state. You can contact them through the Madison office at 800-536-6799.
  • WWBIC has a focus on micro loans (< $35,000) for women, minorities and low-income people looking to start a business, but they will help anyone who contacts them. They have offices in Milwaukee (414-263-5450) and Madison (608-257-5450).
  • Wisconsin has many programs for financing businesses. Visit Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation or WEDC for details, or view their resources page. WEDC also offers Training Grants to eligible businesses to improve the job-related skills of both new and existing full-time employees.

Pollution prevention and energy efficiency

  • The DNR administers Clean Diesel Grant Programs to help reduce diesel emissions from both public and private vehicle fleets across the state.
  • The DNR's water and wastewater funding sources page contains information about potential funding. Please note, much of the funding available is for governmental entities.
  • Focus on Energy helps Wisconsin businesses lower operational costs and improve their bottom lines through energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Participating in their programs can help your company manage energy costs, control energy demand, protect the environment and promote in-state economic development. Some of their various programs include:
    • business incentive;
    • large energy users;
    • chain stores and franchises;
    • Small business;
    • Design assistance; and
    • Retro-commissioning.
  • Many counties across Wisconsin are adopting the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program in their communities. Renewable energy, energy efficiency and water conservation projects for commercial, industrial and other buildings in participating communities may be eligible to receive low-cost financing. Participants enjoy no up-front, out-of-pocket costs; long repayment periods; immediate cost savings and increased property values. Projects for both existing buildings and new construction are eligible. Contact the program administrator at with questions.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
  • The federal government offers various corporate tax credits for renewable energy purchases, tax depreciations, tax exemptions as well as more information on both state and federal incentives and policies for renewables and efficiencies at DSIRE.
  • Eligible manufacturers in Milwaukee and surrounding areas can get a free assessment of their operations from UW-Milwaukee's Industrial Assessment Center. Assessments identify ways to increase efficiency by decreasing energy and water use and adopting innovating manufacturing technologies, among other recommendations.
  • The EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program provides funding to small businesses to develop and commercialize innovative technologies that benefit the environment.

Department of Revenue

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue administers the state's major tax laws, including the collection of individual taxes, sales taxes, corporate income taxes and excise taxes.

City-specific resources

  • Cedarburg offers financing and personal assistance to businesses in energy efficiency.
  • River Falls, through River Falls Municipal Utilities, has a wide range of programs and services available to meet the needs of business customers.
  • Madison provides various forms of assistance for businesses seeking energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Milwaukee offers financial assistance with rebates through their Better Buildings Challenge – Milwaukee and Milwaukee Shines programs.

Additional resources