Organizations supporting diverse businesses across Wisconsin say they’ll use new grant funding to bolster mentorship, training, technical support, staffing and more.
Officials yesterday announced $15.7 million in new grant funding for these groups. At a press conference at the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace in Milwaukee, Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld noted $6 million of those funds are going to organizations based in the Milwaukee area. She was joined by several grant recipients.
“The talent in this room is incredible,” she said. “So many of you have worked so hard over the years to create opportunities for thriving businesses and communities, not just here in Milwaukee, but all over the state.”
The funding comes from the state’s Diverse Business Assistance program, which was announced in October 2021 with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. Yesterday’s announcement marked the second round of funding after the first was rolled out in March of this year.
Recipients represented at yesterday’s press conference included: the Sherman Phoenix Foundation, which is getting about $3.2 million in funding; the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, with $1.4 million in funding; the state chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, with $980,000 in grant funding; the Manufacturing Diversity Institute, with $300,000; and the Chayil Corporation, with about $200,000.
Stacia Thompson, executive director of the Sherman Phoenix Foundation, said the funding will help the organization “amplify our programming, and support entrepreneurs and creators of color” as they grow their businesses and create jobs in the area. She said if each Black business hired just two people, that would half the Black community’s unemployment rate.
Ugo Nwagbaraocha, president of Diamond Discs International and president of the Wisconsin chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, discussed the group’s work to help minority businesses secure construction contracts. And Keenan Grenell, director of the Manufacturing Diversity Institute, said the group is “eager and ready to get down to business” as it works to help create jobs and build wealth.
Meanwhile, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Executive Director Theo Lipscomb stressed the impact these dollars will have on communities in Milwaukee.
“After decades of historical disinvestment in our community, these dollars are so important,” he said.
–By Alex Moe