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scott grace pawstar

ZERO Loan Program assists local businesses with critical equipment purchases

RACINE COUNTY, WI – During the pandemic, Racine County businesses faced financial challenges – leaving employers concerned about how to access intermediate financing, and what options were available for them to keep their businesses afloat.

The ZERO Loan Program was capitalized through a grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC) – designed to stabilize local businesses impacted by the pandemic. The program includes 0% interest for the first two years, no closing fees, and no payments for up to 18 months.

Two Racine County businesses saw this intermediate financing option as an opportunity to improve operations – the City of Racine’s Pawstar and the Village of Union Grove’s Graphic Sign Shop. 

PAWSTAR - CITY OF RACINE

Pawstar is a clothing manufacturing business located at 1236 13th Street. Owner Scott Grace used the ZERO Loan Program to purchase a new engraving system for higher quality, more efficient production.

“RCEDC worked with us for the dual purpose of obtaining funding through the Zero Loan Program, and providing insight towards our financial health – in the scope of a recovering economy,” said Grace. “Opportunities like the Zero Loan Program provide the option for businesses to grow even when economic conditions are not favorable.”

scott grace pawstar
This is the second project for which Grace utilized RCEDC resources. In 2019, RCEDC worked with the City of Racine and Racine County to help Pawstar relocate from the Chicago area to Racine’s Uptown neighborhood.

GRAPHIC SIGN SHOP - UNION GROVE

Kevin Fitzpatrick, owner of the Graphic Sign Shop located in Union Grove, noticed that other sign shops were closing and saw this change as an opportunity to invest and grow his business. This led Fitzpatrick to secure a loan from the ZERO Loan Program, to purchase a new printer that will offer higher quality products and retain his employees.

“This program was unknown territory for us – RCEDC helped guide the process and were always available for questions when we needed them,” said Fitzpatrick. “Purchasing our new equipment was easy and I would recommend this program – in fact, I have recommended it to a few businesses already.”

The EDA originally granted RCEDC a total of $3.3 million to distribute throughout Racine County. To date, RCEDC has facilitated about $1.6 million to businesses affected by the pandemic, leaving about half the funds still available.


The Zero Loan Program is meant to finance working capital, equipment, or expansion projects. Businesses utilizing this program must demonstrate how the pandemic negatively affected their business, and their use of funds will benefit Racine County (i.e. job creation, community development, etc.). To learn more about the program and eligibility, contact Carolyn Engel at Carolyn@blp504.org.

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