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Programs and Incentives
Programs and Incentives

Thrive Economic Development works with expanding business as well as businesses that are new to the two-county region to identify local, state, and federal programs and incentives that encourage business growth and job creation. From tax credits to locally-controlled loan funds, there are multiple resources designed to assist businesses in Greater Jefferson County.

Wisconsin has a wide range of programs and incentives to encourage business growth and job creation. The list below contains just a few programs and incentives for businesses. Looking to invest in Greater Jefferson County? Contact our office first for assistance.

Jefferson County Revolving Loan Fund

The Jefferson County Revolving Loan Fund (JCRLF) provides gap financing to businesses within Jefferson County. The fund support business growth and the economic vibrancy of Jefferson County by encouraging investments that enhance a business’ productivity or operational efficiency, supporting investments that enhance a business’ ability to compete in a global marketplace and encouraging and financially supporting investments that are necessary to retain or create jobs that pay at least Jefferson County average annual wage which equates to $22.29/hr (2020BLS data). For more information, visit the RLF program page on this website.

Research and Development Credit

The State of Wisconsin offers a Research Credit, modeled after IRC § 41, that equals 5.75% of the excess Qualified Research Expenditures (QREs) over the base amount (50% of the prior 3 years’ QREs).

  • 75% of QRE that exceed 50% of the last 3-year average
  • 50% for designing energy efficient lighting systems, building automation and control systems, or automotive batteries for use in hybrid-electric vehicles
  • Qualified research expenses are those eligible for the federal research credit (supplies, wages, and 65% paid to others for contract research services) and conducted in Wisconsin
  • Up to 15% of the credit may be refunded if no tax liability
  • Credit may be shared with other corporations that file a Wisconsin combined corporate tax return

Learn more here

Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit

Equal to 7.5% of qualified production activities income generated in Wisconsin. For corporations, who incur a 7.9% tax rate in Wisconsin, the credit effectively reduces the tax rate on manufacturing income in Wisconsin to zero. See the fact sheet here or under Links & Downloads below.

Business Development Tax Credits

A business located in, or relocating to, Wisconsin may be eligible for tax credits if the business’s net employment in the state increases each year for which the business claims tax credits. Tax credits are subject to maintenance requirements; the full program guidelines are available here.

Enterprise Zone Tax Credits

Wisconsin’s Enterprise Zone Tax Credits are available to assist Wisconsin businesses that have significant expansion projects or are relocating major business operations from other states to Wisconsin. Refundable tax credits can be earned through job creation, job retention, capital investment, employee training and supply chain purchases from Wisconsin vendors.

Businesses that wish to apply for Enterprise Zone Tax Credits must submit an application for certification to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Subject to review by the Joint Committee on Finance, WEDC may designate any number of Enterprise Zones in Wisconsin. A business will be required to enter into a contract with WEDC for the tax credits prior to any certification or verification of tax credits by WEDC. Learn more here.

Business Development Loan Program

An eligible business with fewer than 500 employees and at least 12 months of operating financial history may apply for a direct loan to receive financing for eligible projects in the state of Wisconsin. Loan amounts are typically between $100,000 and $250,000, for a term between 60 and 72 months (up to a maximum of 84 months for real estate.

To qualify for a Business Development Loan, businesses should be based in one of the following industries: aerospace manufacturing; bioscience; energy, power and control; food and beverage; forest products; manufacturing; water technology; or transportation.

See the fact sheet here or under Links & Downloads below.

Sales and Use Tax Exemptions (from state and local sales and use tax of 5-5.5%)

Machinery and Equipment used in Manufacturing – The purchase and use of machines and specific processing equipment used by a manufacturer.

Fuel and Electricity used in Manufacturing – The purchase and use of fuel and electricity used in manufacturing tangible personal property.

Qualified Research and Biotechnology – The purchase and use of machinery and equipment, including attachments, parts, and accessories, and other tangible personal property used exclusively and directly in qualified research for a business that is either engaged in manufacturing (in a building assessed as a manufacturing building for property tax purposes), or primarily engaged in biotechnology in Wisconsin.

Property Tax Exemptions for Manufacturing Equipment

Machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing process, as well as computer hardware and software are exempt from personal property tax.

WI Dept of Revenue info


Energy Efficiency Programs and Incentives

Energy Innovation Grant ProgramCovers a wide variety of energy related projects that reduce energy consumption and support renewable energy and energy storage, energy efficiency and demand response,​ or comprehensive energy planning.

Focus on EnergyWisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program works with eligible businesses to install cost-effective, energy efficient and renewable energy projects. Financial incentives and rebates are available for installing energy efficient equipment.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) enables property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements.

New Market Tax Credits

New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) benefits flow through the leveraged lender. The developer or owner receives a higher loan to value, and at the maturity of the tax credits,  there is a debt forgiveness. In addition to real estate, the NMTC’s may be used for equipment and up to 12 months of operating or startup costs.  Building improvements are also eligible. Approximately 20% of the debt ends up being forgiven. The forgiveness of debt is taxed at the then current rate. A simplified overview of the process and benefits can be found here:

Opportunity Zones

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) established Opportunity Zones to incite private investment in designated economically-challenged communities throughout the United States. Private investment in Opportunity Zones is encouraged through tax incentives.

Opportunity zones offer federal tax benefits for investors in low-income communities.  Qualifying areas were designated by census tract data and had to meet the definition of low-income as defined under the New Markets Tax Credit program

Wisconsin has 120 designated Opportunity Zones, covering more than 40 counties in rural, urban and tribal areas in the state. Two of the designated Opportunity Zones are located in the Greater Jefferson County area.


Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) Program – Provides matching state grants to governing bodies for road, rail, harbor, and airport projects that help attract employers to Wisconsin or encourage business and industry to remain and expand in the state.

Wisconsin Fast Forward Training ProgramAwards funds to businesses from all Wisconsin industry sectors that reimburse the costs of customized occupational training for unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers. The customized, business-driven training will qualify workers for full-time employment, higher level employment, or increased wages.

Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) Grants – The Wisconsin Technical College System provides funds to support employers in their efforts to retain and advance the skills of their existing workforce and help offset customized training costs.

US EDA – Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs – EDA provides catalytic investments to help distressed communities build, design or engineer critical infrastructure and facilities that will help implement regional development strategies and advance bottom-up economic development goals to promote regional prosperity.  Examples of projects that have been funded previously include water and sewer system improvements and creation or expansion of industrial parks.

Tax Increment Financing

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)Wisconsin legislation allows for TIF as a financing option that allows a municipality (town, village, or city) to fund infrastructure and other improvements, through property tax revenue on newly developed property. A municipality identifies an area, the Tax Incremental District (TID), as appropriate for a certain type of development. The municipality identifies projects to encourage and facilitate the desired development. Then as property values rise, the municipality uses the property tax paid on that development to pay for the projects.

Links & Downloads
Interactive Incentive Finder

Interactive Incentive Finder

There are a number of tax credits and incentives available to businesses. Don’t miss out!

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