Connects economic development with small business to give entrepreneurs easier access to state resources
MADISON, WI. NOV. 30, 2021 – As part of the state’s ongoing efforts to directly support small businesses, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will locate its Madison offices in the Urban League of Greater Madison’s Black Business Hub when construction is complete in 2023, WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes announced today.
“WEDC is strengthening our relationships with small businesses and entrepreneurs. This move will enable WEDC to physically be a part of Wisconsin’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Hughes said. “We will literally be working alongside some of our state’s most exciting innovators and we will be close enough to serve as a resource for the young companies that will call the business hub home. Embedding ourselves in the Hub will also help WEDC connect with traditionally underserved communities, including people of color, women and LGBT individuals who may not have the same access to capital and technical expertise as others.”
Hughes’ announcement comes as WEDC is preparing for MARKETPLACE: The Governor’s Conference on Diverse Business Development, which is marking its 40th anniversary with virtual events on Dec. 7 and in-person events at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee on Dec. 8 and 9. The conference provides opportunities for minority-, women-, veteran- and LGBT-owned businesses to network, make business connections, and recognizes outstanding diverse businesses.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, WEDC has provided more than $600 million in assistance to small businesses across the state, including aid targeted to diverse businesses that were hardest hit. WEDC has identified finding solutions to Wisconsin’s long- and short-term workforce needs; addressing the effects of systemic racial and economic inequities, and investing in community infrastructure as its three top priorities in building the state’s economic recovery.
“Located on Madison’s South Side, the Urban League’s Black Business Hub will be an enterprise center devoted to helping under-served entrepreneurs build their businesses,” said Dr. Ruben Anthony, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. “The four-story Hub, located at the corner of Park Street and Hughes Place, will include office space, retail storefronts, pop-up vending spaces, co-working space, a shared commercial kitchen and more.”
The Black Business Hub is set to become the Madison region’s premier Black-led enterprise center devoted to assisting under-served entrepreneurs. While The Hub will be a destination that will serve the entire Madison region, its location in South Madison – Madison’s oldest African American enclave – is a significant investment in this neighborhood.
The Black Business Hub will be much more than a building. It will be a self-contained, full service ecosystem of resources devoted to incubating, accelerating, and networking Black and other under-served entrepreneurs. This place-based, Black-led system of entrepreneurial empowerment will include training, coaching, networking, and other programming that will serve hundreds of current and aspiring entrepreneurs annually.