Browse a curated list of initiatives designed specifically to assist rural entrepreneurs in finding business success.
Entrepreneurship Assistance Programs
Rural Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Initiative
The Rural Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Initiative (RWEI) provides education, training, research, and technical assistance to small businesses and entrepreneurs, economic development professionals, and communities that are interested in supporting and developing entrepreneurial activity in rural Wisconsin. RWEI is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Extension and WEDC to provide resources, support, and technical assistance to rural entrepreneurs across the state.
Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference
This first such conference to be held in Wisconsin will gather business and community leaders and economic development professionals to develop strategies that will support entrepreneurship in Wisconsin’s small communities. The conference will be held in Platteville on May 30-31, and attendees will tour the Platteville area to see how local entrepreneurship contributes to the Driftless Region’s development.
UW Rural Entrepreneurship Program
This program is designed to help entrepreneurs outside of Madison and Milwaukee by providing legal services and by supporting law students who want to work in rural Wisconsin. It also advocates for policy initiatives in areas that directly affect rural entrepreneurs, including broadband, cooperatives, and access to capital.
Homegrown is a program focused on building and strengthening local entrepreneurial networks. The program offers information about entrepreneurship and strategies to build network relationships.
The GRID’s mission is to promote entrepreneurship and small business growth in north central Wisconsin by connecting business builders to the resources, education, expertise, and social connections they need to succeed. The GRID is an initiative by Nicolet College.
IDEA Hub Accelerator
The IDEA Hub Accelerator, in Platteville, helps potential entrepreneurs develop a business model, connect with mentors, and launch a company.
WiSys VentureHome is developing a network of startup hubs across the state to combine statewide resources with community initiatives. It also encourages successful entrepreneurs to “venture home” and contribute to their local communities.
SizeUpWI is a free customized platform for small and midsize business owners and entrepreneurs that provides the market research and business intelligence needed for growth and success. Offered with support from WEDC, SizeUpWI uses industry data analysis to help business owners discover potential customers and suppliers, optimize advertising, and see how their companies measure up within their industry.
WI Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
The Wisconsin SBDC offers consulting, education, referrals, sophisticated tools, and resources to help entrepreneurs determine if their business idea is feasible, train them on how to launch a business, and help them secure funding to establish or expand their company. The SBDC has more than 12 locations around Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC)
Founded in 1987, WWBIC helps underserved individuals who are interested in starting, strengthening, or expanding businesses with access to critical resources such as responsible financial products and quality business and financial training. WWBIC focuses its efforts on assisting entrepreneurs who are women, veterans, rural, low-wealth, and people of color.
Entrepreneurship Partner Grant
This WEDC program provides grants to eligible nonprofits so they can, in turn, provide funding support and technical assistance to startups. The program has grants available for new or pilot projects and for established projects with demonstrated results. The program operates on a competitive basis and has multiple application cycles throughout the year.
Cooperative Development Grant
WEDC’s Cooperative Development Grant initiative supports the development of new and existing cooperatives in Wisconsin by helping with planning and exploratory research in advance of making a large investment to expand or to form a cooperative.
Rural Business Development Grant
The purpose of this program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is to promote economic development and job creation projects through grants awarded to eligible entities. Applications compete in two categories, business opportunity grants and business enterprise grants, for use in funding business and community projects that serve rural areas.