Helping minority-owned businesses succeed
Recognizing that minority-owned businesses face unique challenges, WEDC works with minority entrepreneurs and business owners to provide financial assistance, programs, resources and statewide networking opportunities through its Minority Business Development Program. Since 2011, WEDC has invested more than $2 million in four minority chambers of commerce: the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin. WEDC is making these investments in the nonprofit minority business associations because they are well connected in their respective communities and in the best position to distribute WEDC funds for maximum impact.
Of WEDC’s total investment in these organizations, $700,000 has been specifically for the chambers’ revolving loan funds. That investment generated an additional $3.7 million in funding from other sources for projects expected to create or retain more than 200 jobs at minority-owned small businesses. WEDC’s investment in the chambers is also designed to assist them in building their capacity to administer loans and to serve their clients by providing technical assistance -- such as business training workshops, financial awareness programs, assistance with securing financing, networking opportunities and one-on-one mentoring.
MARKETPLACE offers resources, networking opportunities
WEDC also provides minority-owned businesses the resources and networking opportunities they need by organizing and hosting MARKETPLACE, the annual Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development. The two-day event in Milwaukee offers businesses one-on-one meetings with federal, state, local and corporate buyers; workshops; exhibit booths; and a business excellence competition. The event has been expanded to include the Small Business Academy, a half-day workshop that provides entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with financial and technical resource providers, learn the tools needed to start and grow their businesses, and network with other businesses.