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Couleecap Awarded by Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Entrepreneurial Support Program


March 11, 2020

Couleecap, in partnership with local economic development groups, has been awarded a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Entrepreneurial Support Grant. This is the fourth year that Couleecap has received the award and is one of nine agencies receiving the award in the state. The funds will support projects meant to expand entrepreneurial opportunity, promote entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial training and mentorship, and business and job development. The WEDC awarded $432,000 in matching grants statewide.

Funds from the grant will allow Couleecap to expand its delivery of the nationally acclaimed CO.STARTERS Entrepreneurial Training Program to more rural commercial districts in the Coulee Region, including the first CO.STARTERS cohort in Prairie Du Chien, Crawford County, and continuing cohorts in La Crosse, Monroe, and Vernon Counties. The grant will also be used to address community development needs, such as the need for more childcare businesses, and promote entrepreneurial opportunity in underrepresented communities, such as racially and ethnically diverse communities.

The award will fund the Viroqua Chamber Main Street’s award-winning Pop Up Shop program as the program continues to grow in the region, becoming available to additional rural commercial districts. The Pop-Up Shop program supports retail entrepreneurship and downtown development by providing entrepreneurs retail space to test their business idea for two to three months rent free. In 2019, Pop Up Shop programs were successfully administered in La Crosse, Viroqua, Cashton, Bangor, and Prairie du Chien. In 2020, any community in the Coulee Region can apply to become a Pop Up Shop location.

Couleecap will continue to partner with Downtown Mainstreet Inc., La Crosse County, and other local stakeholders to offer business development programs, including a small business grant program for new and expanding businesses through the Launch La Crosse Program. Couleecap and these partners will also expand availability of succession planning resources available to La Crosse area small business owners nearing retirement age.

“We are grateful for the continued support of the WEDC, and the opportunity to work with our partners on these important community projects,” said Aaron Reimler, Business and Income Developer at Couleecap. “Opportunity share for entrepreneurs is an important aspect of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem and a strong local economy. These projects will help increase opportunity share, reduce barriers to entry, and leverage local assets to build equity in our community.”


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