Northern Wisconsin targets new small business loans.

A Minnesota nonprofit is expanding loans, grants and consulting services to small businesses in much of northern Wisconsin.

The effort, funded by $8 million from the state of Wisconsin, initially targets seven counties in the Northwest, Duluth’s Entrepreneurs Fund said. By 2025, five additional counties will be added in the northern part of the state and also include five First Nations nations.

Much of the funding comes from Wisconsin’s share of the American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) for rural businesses that are underrepresented in traditional loans.

Shawn Wellnitz, president and CEO of the Entrepreneur Fund, said the focus is on the area north of State Highway 8, which has historically been underfunded. Some communities will include Spooner, Hayward, Ashland, Bayfield and Eagle River.

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