Merrill and Lincoln County businesses benefit from Bounceback Grants
BY TINA L. SCOTT
In the last two years, business has been booming in Merrill and in Lincoln County. New businesses have emerged to fill vacant retail and commercial spaces, providing for new places to shop, new services, more jobs, and a greater variety of options for area residents and businesses to enjoy. This benefits local residents and could also help to attract others to the area to fill jobs, purchase property and pay taxes that provide for necessary services, and help increase declining student enrollment for the school district. It also means more visitors to the community, which benefits the area in many ways when money is spent locally. Sales tax revenue increases for Lincoln County and, when someone travels to the community to visit one business, they are more likely to frequent other area businesses on that trip, as well.
Main Street Bounceback Grants
This booming business growth has been bolstered by free money designed to reignite Wisconsin’s downtown business shopping districts and local economies after the pandemic.
In April 2021, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced the introduction of Main Street Bounceback Grants, with $50 million from the American Rescue Plan Act put into the program, and in May 2022, an injection of additional federal funding added another $25 million to the program. The program was originally set to end in June 2022, but as a result of the additional funds, the program was extended to the end of December 2022.
The program ultimately offered new or existing businesses the chance to qualify for a $10,000 one-time grant if they purchased a vacant commercial space at least 400 square feet in size or started a new lease for such a space between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2022. Franchises and certain other business classifications were not eligible, helping to focus the grant monies on small independent businesses.
At the conclusion of the program, according to the WEDC, 9,429 businesses in Wisconsin had received one of the $10,000 grants.
Locally, 36 businesses in Lincoln County benefited from Main Street Bounceback Grants, adding $360,000 to our County’s business community.
Of those 36 businesses, 25 of those businesses were in Merrill, infusing $250,000 into the Merrill business community, and 11 Tomahawk businesses received a grant, infusing $110,000 into their business district.
New and expanding Merrill businesses
The following Merrill businesses received Badger Main Street Bounceback Grants:
- Priority Medical Partners Direct
- Auntie Ray’s Coffee House LLC
- Merrill Chiropractic
- Northside Auto
- Raymer’s Westside Laundry
- Rubies & Diamonds Boutique LLC
- Henna North LLC
- FunTime Action Center LLC
- Dragons, Daggers ‘n Games
- Tranquil Times Wellness LLC
- Strive 4 Life LLC
- Fick Bricks
- Systemic Solutions dba D’s Dogs
- Ballyhoos Restaurant and Tavern
- Victoria’s Floral
- The 710 Smoke Shop
- Greek Stop
- Wisco Upgrades LLC
- Klug Financial Solutions
- The Gathering Table
- The Pet Spa LLC
- Muddy Paws Dog Wash LLC
- B’s Nest
- The Cosmo Theatre Inc.
- Ziebell Door Company
The majority of the grant recipients were brand new businesses at the time of their applications, and the $10,000 grants helped them open their businesses and/or made moving to a retail location possible.
Existing businesses that qualified for grants used the funds to physically expand their business interests/locations in Merrill.
The Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce assisted some applicants with the process.
Tomahawk business offerings expand
The following Tomahawk businesses received Badger Main Street Bounceback Grants:
- WAQ, LLC
- HMM Boutique
- Tomahawk Tattoo & Tan
- CrestPointe Properties LLC
- The Knot Haus Gift Gallery & Craft Supplies
- Frokjer Law, LLC
- Big Bear Mini Golf & Ice Cream
- Allegiance Employment
- Tomahawk Community Thrift Shop
- The Community Project
- Powersports Repair and More
North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission assisted with evaluating grant applications and disbursing the funds to qualifying businesses.