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40th Annual MARKETPLACE Governor’s Awards recognize outstanding diverse businesses

December 9, 2021
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Governor Evers presents awards to top minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned businesses

MILWAUKEE, WI. Dec. 9, 2021– Eight Wisconsin businesses received top honors in the 2021 MARKETPLACE Governor’s Awards competition, which recognizes outstanding businesses owned by minorities, women and service-disabled veterans. Three individuals were also honored with distinguished awards for their work supporting and leading diverse businesses as part of MARKETPLACE’s 40th anniversary celebration.

The awards were presented by Governor Tony Evers and Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the 40th annual MARKETPLACE, the Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development, which was held at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

“To meet the challenges ahead of us, we have to make sure we have an economy that works for everyone,” Governor Evers said. “These awards showcase the important contributions that small businesses make to our communities every day, including those owned by people of color, women, and veterans, and these folks are an essential part of our economic recovery and the economy we’re working to build, together.”

In celebration of the Marketplace conference’s 40th anniversary, Governor Evers presented three special awards.

Dr. Valerie Daniels-Carter received the Distinguished Business Leader Award. She is the president and CEO of V&J Foods, Holding Companies Inc., a multi-brand multi-state operation recognized as the largest female-led franchise operations in the country. Daniels-Carter’s quick-service restaurant operations began with a single Burger King location in 1984 and have grown to include locations of Auntie Anne’s Soft Pretzels, Coffee Beanery, Nino’s Southern Sides, MyYoMy Frozen Yogurt, Pizza Hut and Captain D’s Seafood along with numerous real estate ventures. Currently she is a board member of the Green Bay Packers and is a minority owner of the NBA 2021 Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks Basketball Team.

Floyd Rose, Ph.D., received the Distinguished Supplier Diversity Development Award. A longtime advocate for diversity in suppliers, Rose is now president of 100 Black Men of Madison Inc. Rose led for over two decades the Wisconsin Supplier Development Council (WSDC), a nonprofit affiliated with a national organization that supports and develops minority-owned businesses by facilitating important connections between corporations and minority suppliers of goods and services. Rose was also involved in the creation of the Business Management Seminar (BMS), an executive management symposium that has been exclusively tailored for the owners and executives of minority-owned firms.

Joaquin Altoro received the Distinguished Diverse Business Development Award. Altoro, now the Rural Housing Service Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been a champion of the MARKETPLACE conference, serving on the event’s Planning Committee. Throughout his career, Altoro has worked to help organizations increase the technical and financial assistance they can provide to business owners and entrepreneurs. While Altoro was vice president of Town Bank, the bank invested $1 million in the ethnic Chambers of Commerce’s revolving loan fund programs, leveraging WEDC’s seed fund. In 2019, he was appointed by Governor Evers to be CEO of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, where his team succeeded in surpassing the state’s goals for minority spending. Altoro was appointed to the Biden-Harris administration just last month.

The MARKETPLACE Outstanding Business Awards recognize Wisconsin businesses that show overall business excellence in sales growth, product innovation, employment and management. Those awards have two categories, one for businesses with more than 25 employees and one for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees. The Rising Star Awards recognizes the achievements of businesses operating less than five years that have demonstrated strong growth potential.

All winners are Wisconsin-based companies certified as being minority-owned (MBE), woman-owned (WBE) or service-disabled veteran (SDVB) business enterprises.

The 2021 Outstanding Business award winners are:

Large Business

MBE: Rinka, Inc. – Milwaukee

WBE: The Dieringer Research Group Inc. – Brookfield

SDVB: Purple Mountain Solutions – Plover

Small Business

MBE: Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute – Milwaukee

WBE: Gerber Leisure Products – Mount Horeb

(No SDVB winner in this category this year.)

Rising Star

MBE: The Ellevate Collective LLC – Glendale

WBE: Alliere CPA LLC – Sun Prairie

SDVB: Valor Technologies LLC– Milwaukee

Two businesses were honored with the Herb Miler Supplier Diversity Legacy Awards: K. Singh & Associates Inc., based in Wauwatosa, and Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage, based in Milwaukee.

In addition, DI & Associates, dba Spherion Staffing Services, Madison, has been selected as the award winner for the Highest Certified Spend for Goods and Services with the State of Wisconsin in fiscal year 2021. Greenfire Management Services LLC of Milwaukee has been selected as the award winner for the Highest Certified Spend for Construction/Architecture and Engineering with the State of Wisconsin in fiscal year 2021.

These awards are a part of the larger MARKETPLACE conference Dec. 7-9. This event provides an opportunity to celebrate Wisconsin’s minority-, woman-, veteran- and LGBTQ-owned businesses, as well as connecting these businesses with new opportunities through networking, buyer meetings and workshops. For more information, visit

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