RACINE -- Although Racine is home to several corporations, more than 50 percent of the city's jobs come from small businesses. That is why Racine is renewing a micro-fund program made possible with federal funding. Its mission -- to help small businesses grow with a loan from the city.
Steven Chatman and his business partners saw a former travel agency in Racine -- and turned it into the new home of Valid Kixx.
"We, I guess basically, love sneakers," Chatman said.
But starting a business from scratch makes money decisions even more important.
That is where the city comes in. Racine wants to treat small businesses like the "soles" of their community -- and take a big step forward regardless of what is on the shelves.
"This was the thing that allowed them to expand and grow or continue to be successful in Racine, and give people who want to come here and enjoy our city more opportunities to do business," said Racine Mayor Cory Mason.
Mason launched the pilot program in 2019. He gave five businesses, all minority or female-owned with five or fewer employees, a low-interest loan up to $15,000.
At Valid Kixx, that money helped pay for advertising and more inventory.
Because of the success in 2019, Racine expects around $100,000 will be available for this year's recipients. Applications are due by March 2.