Wisconsin Incentives and Workforce Development Guide

For a list of Wisconsin economic development agencies that can help with the site selection process, visit our Online Site Seekers’ Guide.

Finance and Loan Programs

Brownfield Grants: Grants to local governments, businesses, non-profits and individuals for developing commercial and industrial sites that have been adversely affected by environmental contamination.

Brownfield Site Assessment Grant: Grant funds to approved projects to assist local governments with conducting initial environmental assessment and demolition activities on an eligible abandoned, idle or underutilized industrial or commercial site.

Business Opportunity Loan Fund: Financing options ranging from loans to loan guaranties for businesses making investments to expand in or relocate to Wisconsin.

Capacity Building Grants: Grants to assist local and regional economic development groups to create an advanced economic development network within Wisconsin.

Capital Catalyst: Matching grants to seed funds managed by local communities and other eligible entities to provide capital to high-growth startups and emerging growth companies.

Certified Sites: Consistent standards developed for Wisconsin sites consisting of at least 50 contiguous, developable acres signaling that key approvals, documentations and assessments for industrial uses are already in place.

Clean Energy Revolving Loan Fund: Low-interest loans funded through the State Energy Program in partnership with the State Energy Office available to manufacturers in the clean energy sector seeking to expand operations.

Community Development Investment Grant: Financial support for shovel-ready projects with particular emphasis on downtown community driven efforts that deliver significant, measurable benefits in job opportunities, property values, and/or leveraged investment by local and private partners.

Global Business Development Grants: Grant funding to support the growth and expansion of exports by Wisconsin companies.

Idle Industrial Sites Redevelopment: Highly competitive program offering grants to Wisconsin communities for the implementation of redevelopment plans for large industrial sites that have been idle, abandoned or underutilized for at least five years.

Impact Loans: Forgivable loans to businesses with expansion projects providing job creation or retention; capital investment; and significant impact.

Industrial Revenue Bonds: A unique type of revenue bond organized and issued by a state or local government, the proceeds of which are directed to a private, for-profit business.

Seed Accelerator: Provides grants to eligible communities and other organizations to support a pre-seed business model program that incorporates training, mentoring and financial assistance to entrepreneurs in their area. Grant funds may be used as seed capital for companies in the accelerator, as well as for costs associated with initiating the accelerator program.

Special Project Loan Fund: Loans or loan guarantees to eligible companies preparing for future growth; diversifying operations, markets or product lines to increase competitiveness; or preparing a project site for future commercial development.

Technology Development Loans: Flexible lending program designed to assist high-tech startup and emerging growth companies in financing the development and launch of innovative products and services.

Tax Incentives

Capital Gains Investment Incentives:

  • Capital gains on funds invested in qualified Wisconsin businesses are completely exempt from the capital gains tax after the investment has been held for five years.
  • Capital gains on existing investments which are sold in order to generate funds for investments in qualified Wisconsin businesses are deferred so that they are not taxed at the time they are invested in the Wisconsin businesses.

Development Opportunity Zones: Non-refundable tax credits for new and expanding businesses in the cities of Beloit, Janesville and Kenosha to assist with capital investment and the creation and retention of new, full-time jobs.

Economic Development Tax Credit: Provides non-refundable or transferable income tax credits that can be earned based on jobs, capital investment, training, and the location or retention of corporate headquarters.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit: State income tax credit for 20% of the qualified rehabilitation expenditures for eligible buildings.

Job Creation Deduction: Companies can take an exclusion from income if they create jobs in Wisconsin of $4,000 per employee for small businesses and $2,000 per employee for larger businesses.

Jobs Tax Credit: Available for businesses for taxable years that begin on or after January 1, 2010. The credit is based on the amount of wages paid to eligible employees in the taxable year, subject to a maximum amount of 10% of such wages, and the costs incurred by the claimant to undertake training activities in the current year. If the allowable credit exceeds the tax due, the balance will be paid to the company.

Manufacturing & Agriculture Credit: Available to individuals and entities for taxable years that begin on or after January 1, 2013, for manufacturing and agricultural activities in Wisconsin. The credit is a percentage of “eligible qualified production activities income.” The credit is calculated by multiplying eligible qualified production activities income by one of the following percentages.

  • For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012, and before January1, 2014, 1.875%
  • For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2013, and before January 1, 2015, 3.75%
  • For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2014, and before January1, 2016, 5.526%
  • For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2015, 7.5%

For individuals, the credit is limited to the amount of income tax paid on the income from which the credit is based.

For a corporation, eligible qualified production activities income is the lesser of:

  • eligible qualified production activities income,
  • income apportioned to Wisconsin, or
  • income taxable to Wisconsin as determined by combined reporting law, if the corporation is a member of a Wisconsin combined group

Property Tax Exemptions:

  • Machinery and equipment used in manufacturing is exempt from personal property taxes. Manufacturer and merchant inventories are exempt from personal property taxes.
  • Certain waste treatment facilities owned by utilities, manufacturers, and commercial businesses used for the treatment of industrial waste materials are exempt from general property taxes.

Qualified New Business Venture (QNBV) Program: Helps drive investment to innovate early-stage Wisconsin companies by allowing investors to claim a 25% tax credit on the amount they invest into a QNBV-certified business.

Research and Development Tax Credit: An R&D credit is available to corporations, sole proprietorships and pass-through entities equal to 5% (10% in some cases) of the excess of qualified research expenses for the current year over a base amount.

Sales Tax Exemptions: Wisconsin sales tax does not have to be paid on the following:

  • Machinery and equipment used by a manufacturer in producing tangible personal property.
  • Tangible personal property that becomes an ingredient or component of another product in the manufacturing process.
  • Tangible personal property that is consumed or loses its identity in the process of manufacturing tangible personal property.
  • Machinery, equipment and tangible personal property used in research by companies that are engaged in manufacturing or biotechnology.
  • Fuel and electricity used in manufacturing.

Workforce Development

Apprenticeship Completion Award Program: Offers employers, adult apprentices and sponsors a 25% reimbursement (up to $1,000) for instruction costs, including tuition, books, materials and other course fees.

Export Technical Assistance: Assistance to expand the sale of Wisconsin-made products outside of the United States and to help companies develop an export strategy

ExporTech™: Export acceleration program to help Wisconsin companies expand their global market reach through targeted export strategy development and execution.

Veteran Grant Program: Offers employers a state grant of up to $10,000 over four years for hiring and retaining eligible veterans.

Wisconsin Fast Forward: Makes $15 million in grants available to employers to develop and implement innovative and collaborative customized training solutions for skilled workers.

Workforce Training Grants: Grants for businesses to upgrade or improve the job-related skills of a business’s full-time employees.

Industry Development

WEDC’s Division of Business and Industry Development delivers customized solutions—technical and financial—to established business associations, consortia and industry cluster organizations in order to create favorable conditions for expanding existing Wisconsin industries and attracting new companies to priority industry sectors in Wisconsin. The division also supports minority business development by working with and providing resources for revolving loan funds and technical assistance to minority business development groups.

Updated 1/14/15


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