Below is a list of some of the grant resources available to Milwaukee businesses through the City of Milwaukee, Riverworks Business Improvement District #25, and other entities. This list is NOT a full compilation of all of the resources that can be accessed with the help of a Riverworks Business Development Specialist.
For more information about all of the resources available, or to set up a meeting with Riverworks' Business Development HUB, click the CONTACT US button at the bottom of this page.
Riverworks Bid #25
façade & Security
The Riverworks Business Improvement District (BID) #25 Façade & Security 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 BID provides grants for property improvement projects and safety/security projects for up to 40% of the total project cost. The Façade and Security Grant is for building and property improvements including windows, landscaping, signage, security cameras and LED lighting. Business and Property owners in the BID can apply annually.
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.
City of Milwaukee
City of Milwaukee
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.
CITY OF Milwaukee
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.
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.
Examples of the use of these funds can be seen at the Beerline Plaza located at 3350 N Holton Street, and at the Connector Building located at 274 E Keefe Avenue. Both of those projects were completed by Riverworks Development Corporation in 2022 and 2023, as a way to create community spaces that also protect protects our rivers and lakes from water pollution!
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.
To assist businesses with complying with the ADA, Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses.
The tax credit is available to businesses that have total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees. The tax credit can be used to offset the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility; providing accessible formats such as Braille, large print and audio tape; making available a sign language interpreter or a reader for customers or employees, and for purchasing certain adaptive equipment