LISC, simply stated, cannot do what it does to connect people with opportunity and transform communities without one key asset: partnerships. Last year in Milwaukee, LISC illustrated once again that our impact increases exponentially when we collaborate with strong partners with a wealth of expertise.
That’s what emerged when LISC Milwaukee teamed up with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) on a pioneering urban-rural strategy to spur growth in the city’s communities and support projects in the state’s 46 rural counties that will fuel jobs and local economies.
LISC made a $5 million loan to WHEDA, a portion of which is being used for a new statewide Wisconsin Business Opportunity Fund. The fund will leverage WHEDA’s allocation of federal New Markets Tax Credits to unleash private capital for high-impact economic development projects. Managed by a third partner, Legacy Redevelopment Corporation, the fund will finance construction, equipment purchases, and other types of hard-to-acquire assets for small businesses. A minimum of $3 million will be available for the Milwaukee area with the balance for use statewide.
One of the first loans made by the fund went to ToGo Disposal, a 50-year-old, woman- and minority-owned waste collection and carting company. As a small, undercapitalized firm, ToGo was feeling the squeeze from national carting chains operating in Milwaukee, and needed additional trucks and equipment to fulfill a new contract with the Milwaukee Public Schools system. The $289,000 loan will help ToGo buy four trucks and ultimately create four new full-time positions for Milwaukee workers.
The WHEDA collaboration will also inject capital into rural Wisconsin communities through business investment and training. WHEDA, with its deep knowledge of the state’s economic development landscape, will assess local needs and act as a liaison between project developers and LISC’s underwriting team. LISC’s rural program, for its part, will provide low-interest financing to businesses and nonprofits to boost entrepreneurship, industry, health care and education, in addition to supportive housing development, for which there is high demand in Wisconsin’s small towns and rural communities.
“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to fuel equitable economic growth in both our urban and rural communities,” said Donsia Strong Hill, executive director of LISC Milwaukee. “That means deepening our partnerships with linchpin organizations like WHEDA and leveraging our collective experience to drive progress on our toughest challenges.”
Photo credit: LISC Archives
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Donsia Strong Hill
234 W. Florida Street, #204
Milwaukee, WI 53204