Aside from contacting your bank or credit union, a number of other financing options are available to help you start, grow, or expand your business. This list below is not comprehensive and is to help explore some options you might not have considered.


general financing tools

opportunity Zone tax incentives

The Menomonee River Valley is within an Opportunity Zone. Opportunity Zones, formed in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and established in April 2018, are designated census tracts eligible to receive private investments through Opportunity Funds. Opportunity Funds deploy equity investment capital in Opportunity Zones for eligible purposes, including investment in real estate and small businesses. U.S. investors receive a temporary tax deferral and other tax benefits when they reinvest capital gains into Opportunity Funds for a minimum of five years.

The Opportunity Zones program offers three tax incentives for investing:

  • Temporary Deferral: A temporary deferral of inclusion in taxable income for capital gains reinvested into an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the opportunity zone investment is disposed of or December 31, 2026.

  • A Step-Up in Basis: A step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The basis is increased by 10% if the investment in the Opportunity Fund is held by the taxpayer for at least 5 years and by an additional 5% if held for at least 7 years, thereby excluding up to 15% of the original gain from taxation.

  • Permanent Exclusion: A permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in an Opportunity Fund if the investment is held for at least 10 years. This exclusion only applies to gains accrued after an investment in an Opportunity Fund

Find out more about Opportunity Zones from the City of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and the IRS.

Good City Brewing in Milwaukee created a Qualified Opportunity Fund to facilitate their expansion at the Century City Business Park in 2018. 


new market tax credits

The Menomonee River Valley is located in a census tract eligible to receive New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) investments. NMTC investors provide capital to community development entities (CDEs), and in exchange are awarded credits against their federal tax obligations. CDEs are intermediaries that make loans or investments to businesses in the census tract. The NMTC program is flexible with regard to project type and purpose; it can be be used to finance equipment, operations, or real estate. The US Department of Treasury awards New Market Tax Credits to CDEs each calendar year.


Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

MEDC serves Milwaukee businesses by providing low-interest loans. They share the risk with all participants in a project, lend in partnership with a bank, and lend funds at a higher risk level in order to increase the feasibility of a project. Loan amounts are generally between $100,000 and $250,000.



WWBIC offers: small business loans - access to fair capital through loans of $1,000 to $250,000, even for those who may have credit or personal finance issues; business education courses - in-Person and online training on a variety of valuable business topics such as business planning, financials, marketing, social media, web design, etc; and, small business consulting - one-on-one assistance is to help people launch and grow businesses. Generally, loans can be used for start-up capital, inventory and equipment, business expansion, working capital/lines of credit, build outs, and business professional support (i.e. marketing, accounting, bookkeeping, etc.)

ADDITIONAL financing tools ON west st paul avenue

There are various financing resources available along West St. Paul Avenue from 11th Street to 25th Street. View available properties here

State & Federal Historic Tax Credits

Historic Preservation Tax Credits encourage private sector investment in the rehabilitation and re-use of historic buildings. Menomonee Valley Partners worked to list the W St. Paul Ave Industrial Historic District on the State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places, which allows property owners to access historic tax credits for redevelopment. Twenty two properties are eligible to receive a tax credit for up to 40% of their building's renovation costs, 20% at the state level (up to $3.5 million) and 20% at the federal level. More information is at the Wisconsin Historical Society and/or contact Michelle Kramer at Menomonee Valley Partners. It can take 3-12+ months to apply for and receive approval for tax credit projects depending on their scope. The point of contact for using the tax credit program is Jen Davel at the Wisconsin Historic Preservation Office.  Jen can be reached at 608.264.6490 or by email at

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West St. Paul Avenue Exterior Enhancements Grant 

The St. Paul Ave Exterior Enhancements Grant helps businesses improve their street facing exteriors to create a welcoming presence and show the activity and vibrancy on the street. This grant is a collaboration of the City of Milwaukee and BID #26 and provides a one-to-one match on eligible expenses up to $30,000 (pending remaining budget, first-come first-served). Contact Michelle Kramer for an application, information on funding, and grant timelines. Grants can take 2-3 months to approve and must be approved before work has begun on the project. 

APPLICATION DEADLINE:The Grant Review Committee meets at the end of each month. Your application must be received by the 10th of the month for review in that month.

Third Space Brewing - Before

Third Space Brewing - Before

Third Space Brewing - After

Third Space Brewing - After

Plum Media - Before

Plum Media - Before

Plum Media - After

Plum Media - After


city of milwaukee grants

The City of Milwaukee has assembled a toolbox of resources designed to jump-start a new business, expand an existing company,and support business relocation. Valley businesses use a number of financing tools, including New Markets Tax Credits, the White Box Program (up to $25,000), and the Retail Investment Fund (up to $5,000 per full time equivalent job created). Review options at the City of Milwaukee's website or contact Menomonee Valley Partners for help understanding what might be a good fit for you.

Financing Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Improvements

PACE Financing

  • PACE Financing allows a property owner to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements without a large up-front cash payment. Property owners repay their improvement costs over a set time period (typically 10 to 20 years depending on the expected life of the equipment installed) through the property tax system, therefore linking improvements to the property and not to the owner.

  • PACE Equity often helps to fill the final funding gap and finances energy efficient project components, such as boilers, windows, solar systems, HVAC, controls, refrigeration, cool roofs, LED lighting, fume hoods, and chillers.

  • They lend what they identify that they can save you – meaning it doesn’t cost you more than you would spend anyway due to energy inefficiency.

  • The minimum project size that are Participating PACE lenders will generally fund is $100,000, but there are exceptions; 100% project financing, up to 20% of property value; Investment may be counted as an operating expense and does not land on your balance sheet.

  • Learn more in this Urban Land Magazine article.


Better Buildings Challenge 

  • Learn if you might be eligible for a free energy assessment and which energy efficiency programs the city currently provides. An assessment reviews energy-saving opportunities in your building:

    • Steps include: preliminary assessment, walkthrough, identification of improvements (ex: lighting, HVAC, etc), operations/maintenance practice recommendations, analysis of savings and costs of capital measures, follow-up meeting to review recommendations which includes benchmarking and estimated savings if target usage met

  • Better Building Challenge buildings pledge to reduce energy use by 20% over the next decade

  • Once the assessment is completed, PACE Equity may be used to help finance the project or the property owner can pursue their own financing.


UWM Industrial Assessment Center

An industrial assessment is an in-depth assessment of a plant site, including facilities, consumptions, and operations. You receive a final report with baseline analysis, recommendations and cost estimates, and payback calculations. 

Offers FREE industrial assessments to help your facility:

  • save money on utility bills

  • use less energy

  • reduce pollution and waste

  • increase productivity

View program brochure which includes eligibility guidelines and download application.


Focus on Energy – Small Building Program

  • Designed for customers that use less than 100kW of electricity per month

  • Provides free lighting and/or refrigeration assessments (20-45 minute onsite walk-through) to identify opportunities for energy efficient upgrades in small businesses

  • Helps small business owners save energy and money with the installation of energy-saving products - starting at $199.

  • Business owners can receive up to $7,500 in products, such as LED lighting, faucet aerators, anti-sweat heater controls and installation services.