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Regional economic groups and Nicolet College receive $1 million grant to support small businesses

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There are a myriad of challenges facing small businesses these days.

“Especially with our tourism-based economy here in the Northwoods and the number of restaurants, retail, and hospitality types of services. They’re going to be adapting to a whole host of new challenges, not the least of which being the sacristy of workforce,” said Sandy Bishop, Executive Director for Economic and Community Development at Nicolet College.

Bishop said recovering from the pandemic and adapting to customer’s changing expectations when it comes to things like contactless delivery and online ordering are also top on the list of challenges businesses are facing.

She said business resources like Nicolet College will be able to better serve local businesses with the $1 million grant it’s getting from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Nicolet College will act as hub distributing resources to different spokes in communities that will directly help businesses.

Those spokes include the economic development corporations in Florence, Langlade, Oneida, and Vilas counties, Grow North Regional Economic Development Corporation, the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, and the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Community through Business Development Center.

This group was one of 51 to get the grant out of 700 that applied for it.

“Some of the things that will be made available through the grant program is for these businesses to learn different ways to operate their business or to use technology or to integrate technology into their businesses and maybe because they haven’t had access to resources before, this grant will facilitate them connecting with new ways of doing business,” said Bishop.

The money from the SBA was part of one of the economic stimulus packages passed by Congress.

The grant is being distributed this way to hopefully catch some of the small businesses that didn’t get the support they needed from those bills otherwise.

“The idea is to reach the smallest and the most underserved businesses in areas like ours that are primarily rural in nature,” said Bishop.

Nicolet College and the economic groups can start using the funding December 1st.

Bishop says they’ll be using the rest of this month to get ready by putting people and resources in place.

There is a two-year period to use the funds.

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