Business and Property Assistance

Being a resource to businesses is a top priority for the Riverworks BID. Below are multiple grants and loans for business and property owners to launch, improve and beautify their properties. 

The Riverworks Business Improvement District, identified as Milwaukee's Creative District, is well known for encouraging local creative makers to building their business and promote the arts.


Riverworks BID #25 (RBID) seeks to improve, maintain, and promote the Riverworks Center (the physical boundaries of the Business Improvement District) through thoughtful programs and services for the benefit of property owners, tenants, consumers and residents. 


The Riverworks BID focuses on three key areas to maintain and improve the appearance and perception of the Riverworks Center:​Public Safety & Appearance, Marketing & Promoting, and Business & Property Assistance. ​The district is primarily made up of commercial, manufacturing, small maker manufacturing follow the link below for a map of our district boundaries.


RIVERworks Bid#25

The RWF&S Grant program is a source of potential financing to assist in exterior revitalization efforts, increase capital investments, and provide support to new and existing property owners and businesses located within the boundaries of BID #25. 

The Riverworks BIDs provide grants for property improvement projects and safety/security projects for up to 40% of the total project cost.  ​Our Facade and Security Grant is for building and property improvements including windows, landspacing, signage, security cameras and LED lighting. Business and Property owners in the BID can apply annually.

The grant application can be found and downloaded from the link on the right toolbar.​


Riverworks BID
Facade & Security Grant

Every month, Riverworks sends a specialized marketing email to spotlight different businesses in the BID and throughout the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods.

The Riverworks BID is constantly growing and evolving and in an effort to community to our networks, a spotlight can be a great way for us to assist our local community. 

If your business is interested in being spotlighted, please fill out the form below and we will follow up with you.



The City of Milwaukee is a proud participant in the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy which is a comprehensive energy efficiency program that provides all of the tools and resources necessary for commercial building owners to develop and implement energy efficiency projects in their buildings. The challenge sets the goal of 20% energy savings in 10 years by making energy efficiency retrofits easy, affordable and compelling for commercial building owners and managers.

Milwaukee’s Better Building Challenge offers a number of incentives, including a free energy assessment to make it easy for building owners to get started. Projects can range from small lighting upgrades to full building system overhauls. By taking the pledge, Milwaukee property owners can easily reduce energy consumption, increase building value and tenant retention/attraction, all while strengthening the property’s overall operating budget. Take advantage today of all the tools that accompany the Better Buildings Challenge.


better building challenge

Parking lots are a necessary part of life in Milwaukee but that doesn't mean they can't be green! The parking lot is the first thing your customers or guests see before entering your business. The City of Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) is offering one time grants to help local businesses create more beautiful and environmentally friendly parking lots.

Grants will be awarded ranging from $1,000 to $8,000. Parking Lot Beautification Grants may be paired with other funding programs, including those administered by the City of Milwaukee. 

 ECO Parking Lot Beautification Grants

Parking Lot Beautification Grant

local city funding

The City of Milwaukee offers multiple opportunities for business and property owners to leverage need funds for property improvements. 

The White Box Grant Program is designed to provide targeted financial incentives to increase the vitality of the neighborhood commercial corridors. The funds assist in recruiting new businesses to vacant commercial/retail tenant spaces in commercial buildings. This incentive offers reimbursable grant funds up to $10 per square foot with a maximum grant in the amount of $25,000. The grant may not exceed 50% of the total white-box eligible project costs. The White Box Grant Program cannot be used in conjunction with the RIF program. 



The City's Facade Grant program provides financial assistance to businesses and commercial property owners in renovating the street side facades of their buildings. The program was established by Department of City Development to increase the physical appearance of Milwaukee’s commercial areas and to encourage reinvestment in existing buildings. The program is reimbursable, and the project must be approved prior to the project beginning. The grant amount is limited to no more than 50% of the total of the eligible improvements, not to exceed $5,000 per storefront.



The Signage Grant Program was established to provide business owners financial incentive to add signage to commercial buildings in order to better promote their business to patrons and potential customers. This program can provide up to $2,500 towards the cost of approved signage. The project budget must exceed $2,000 and internally illuminated box signs are not eligible. 

 Signage Grant Program


The Retail Investment Fund (RIF) program is a reimbursement incentive program through the City of Milwaukee for retail development projects located in neighborhood business districts. The size of a RIF grant is determined by the size of the project, private investment, and job creation. In downtown Milwaukee, the RIF grant can equate to $5,000 per full time equivalent job that is created by the project with a maximum reward of $50,000. RIF projects require a matching contribution that is in excess of the amount of RIF reward. 



Kiva US is a loan program within Kiva that provides 0% interest loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs through a crowdfunding platform. The Kiva US program aims to expand access to capital (loans up to $10,000), reduce the cost of capital (0% interest loans), and connect entrepreneurs with a global community.

Milwaukee was the 11th Kiva City in the United States when the program officially launched in February 2015. Milwaukee Downtown, Business Improvement District #21 is a proud trustee of the program and is seeking small businesses and entrepreneurs to work with and endorse for the Kiva US loan program.

kivA us

kiva US

Every year, MMSD invites both public and private sector organizations who plan to install Green Infrastructure (GI) strategies on their property within eligible municipalities, to submit applications for partnership funding through our Green Infrastructure Partnership Program. The 2020 Green Infrastructure Partnership Program application process is currently closed. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2021 Green Infrastructure Partnership Program in January of 2021.


MMSD Green Infrastructure partnership program 

additional funding resources

Being a resource to businesses is a top priority for the Riverworks BID. Below are multiple grants and loans for business and property owners to launch, improve and beautify their properties. This resources page is updated regularly and provides links to local and state programs.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) administers the Historic Preservation Tax Credit (HTC) program that applies to certified historic buildings. Under the program, owners of eligible buildings may receive a state income tax credit for up 20 percent of the qualified rehabilitated expenditures. Several downtown Milwaukee properties have been rehabilitated through the use of HTCs which has resulted in a significant tax base and job growth, as well as the further stabilization of historic buildings and neighborhoods. 

Please view the Wisconsin Historic Tax Credit Analysis, April 2017 for more information on the important impact HTC projects are having in the City of Milwaukee and State of Wisconsin.

historic preservation tax credits (HTC)


We are always on the look out for businesses looking to lease or sell their property. Our goal is to connect them to entrepreneurs and  businesses looking to move into the area.

Check out our online list of available commercial and industrial spaces. If you are looking to add your property to the list, please reach out to Kate Bartlett for more information. 

Americans with disabilities act (ADA) tax credits and incentives

Americans with disabilities act (ADA) tax credits and incentives