Couleecap launches program to support entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds

The program is funded in part by a three-year, $90,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation.

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — On Thursday, Couleecap launched a program aimed at helping entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds establish a stronger foothold in downtown La Crosse.

Couleecap received a $90,000 grant over three years from the La Crosse Community Foundation, in addition to funding from other sources, to transform 320 Main Street into a place where 8-10 small businesses can start.

The program’s application process is intended to help launch businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, and low-income people.

Ashley Lacenski, director of community development at Couleecap, said various groups of entrepreneurs needed additional support.

“It’s important because they haven’t had as many opportunities and advantages as other people,” she said.

Couleecap calls the program a small business incubator. It is specifically intended for companies that are currently in the development phase.

Participating businesses won’t have to pay rent for their first three months at 320 Main Street and will also receive support and technical assistance, among other resources.

“We’re trying to remove some of that risk and help them get retail space,” Lacenski said.

Jamie Schloegel, CEO of La Crosse Community Foundation, said the $90,000 grant over three years will help pay for start-up costs for the program, from renovations to other projects.

Companies wishing to register for the program can do so at this link.

Couleecap also invites the public to participate in choosing the name and logo for the incubator space at 320 Main Street.

To vote for the name of the space, participants can scan a QR code at the downtown address or vote at this link.

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