Governor Scott Walker was at UW-Whitewater Tuesday, where he presented checks to two young entrepreneurs. The state's economic development agency — the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation — is partnering with the city of Whitewater's community development agency to provide start up grants to new companies.
Under WEDC's "Capital Catalyst" program, the state will provide $150,000 in funding, and the Whitewater community will match that for a total of $300,000 ... or more. Walker says each grant recipient will receive $10,000, which he says will go a long way. "Overwhelmingly our belief is here and across the country that new jobs are going to come from start-up businesses and emerging businesses that are just evolving. And so what we're providing is pretty simple. Early on, for some of these smaller company start-ups, $10,000 may not seem like a lot but for them it may be enough to pay the lease for the first year, to pay for some of the costs to get up, hire an additional employee or two."
The Governor also acknowledged that the funding is not without risk, since many start-up companies fail. He presented one check to Andrew Hoept, a senior at UW-Whitewater, who developed computer software that helps grocers keeps tabs on expiration dates. Hoept says he'll use the seed money to help pay for office space that will help his company grow. "This year is where we consider it our year to make or break the company. We're going to focus all of our attention on getting as many grocers testing the software because once we get it in their hands the comment every store will tell us this is that this is the most valuable expiration date method we've ever had."
Hoept says his software is currently in use in 30 grocery stores. Last year under the same program WEDC gave $100,000 to the Innovation Fund of Western Wisconsin in Eau Claire.