$2 million in grants available for students starting businesses

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Grants totaling $2 million are now available to help fund new business ideas from students and staff in the U.W. System.

UW Eau Claire junior Nick Anderson said he has plans to go far in music production, management and performance, but it won't come without challenges.

“As someone coming out of college you already are in trouble financially so with an entrepreneurial endeavor like that, just worried that you won't make any money,” Anderson said.

But help could be out there. The UW System, along with the state economic development corporation announced it will offer up to $75,000 grants for students or staff to get new businesses started.

“This is one piece of a fairly consistent state wide effort to try to grow the economy through new business development. Everyone recognizes that is the engine that drives new business, is creating new jobs,” UW Eau Claire College of Business associate dean, Tim Vaughn said.

Jeannie Voeks started her own business making rain barrels and wine racks out of wine barrels at Banbury Place last year.

“Once I got going, I didn't realize the expenses that there would be as far as advertising and marketing,” Voeks, the owner of Green Planet Rain Barrels, said.

She said making more items than she had planned, there were unexpected costs that forced her to take out loans. She said additional funds would have helped her reach more people.

“It's wonderful for the university to provide that for (students and staff), especially in today's economy. If somebody's got a great idea and they're willing to put the work effort into it, good for them and they should be rewarded by getting the assistance.”

“To be able to get money like that, just helps us so much and would really progress the goal and dream a lot further,” Anderson said.

The Ideadvance Seed Fund grants are not available for real estate, retail, hospitality or restaurants and applications are due in Apr. For more information, see the link below.

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