I was recently asked to participate in a panel discussion for small and growing businesses on the topic of getting to know the ins and outs of what bankers look for when making decisions. As expected, the topic touched on cash flow, collateral, business plans, and the character of both the business owner and the banker. What was unexpected, but very worthwhile, was that the panel touched on the community resources that exist for small and growing business.

In writing this article, I felt it was important to touch on these resources again and provide a concise list of what is available in our Southeast Wisconsin Community. This list is not exhaustive and is not meant to be an endorsement of any institution, but rather an informational list of what is available in our community.

  • WWBIC – A non-profit lender and business resource. WWBIC provides direct small business loans in many cases when a bank cannot. WWBIC also provides training, assisting with business plan writing, and general small business advice.
  • Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) – A lender with a focus on growing jobs in the Milwaukee metro area. Their mission of job growth allows MEDC to do loans for small business that may not fit a bank’s credit box.
  • Chambers of Commerce/Economic Development Group – The Milwaukee area is lucky to have many chambers of commerce and economic groups including the African American Chamber, Hmong Wisconsin Chamber, Waukesha Chamber, Waukesha County Business Alliance, Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), and the South Suburban Chamber to name a few. Many of these group offer resources for starting and growing a business in addition to grants and loan options.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) – These are local centers that provide low and no-cost training to new and existing business. They can provide a lot of hands-on training and coaching for business owners. Many SBDCs are affiliated with universities and are partnerships with the US Small Business Administration. In Southeast Wisconsin there are locations at UWM, Waukesha County, and UW-Parkside.
  • Local Government – Last but not least, many times, local governments can provide some assistance. Town, village, and local governments may have options for grants as well as ways to advertise businesses. Sometimes local government delegates these activities to the local chamber or economic development group.

In short, the Milwaukee metro area is full of resources for small and growing businesses. Knowing what is available is half the battle and utilizing these resources can often give your business a leg up. These local resources can seem like a lot to navigate, which is why all bankers at PyraMax are familiar with these and are happy to provide introductions and help you find a resource that will help.

By Andrew Freter