MADISON, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) — The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) approved $40.7 million in grants to help nearly 16,300 businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency announced Wednesday.

The WEDC reviewed all of the more than 30,500 applications it received last month from small businesses seeking We’re All In Small Business Grants. In the program’s first phase, the WEDC approved grants totaling $40.7 million to almost 16,300 businesses throughout the state. WEDC has already disbursed more than $27.4 million to nearly 11,000 businesses; the organization is processing an additional $13.3 million to more than 5,300 businesses. 

The second phase is already under way, and the agency is working with the remaining businesses to help them qualify for grants. 

“The idea behind the We’re All In grants was to get much-needed funds into the hands of small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible,” WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes said. “We have learned from the applicants that, in many cases, these grants are really helping them to keep the lights on.”     

The We’re All In Small Business Grants are the largest grant program focused exclusively on small businesses that WEDC has created since it was established in 2011, the agency said. The program was established to provide $2,500 grants to 30,000 small businesses, for a total of $75 million in funds disbursed. 

It is primarily funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.