THU AM News: Author, activist calls for inclusion of Black-owned companies in supply chains; Edge co-op highlights market access in trade framework comments

— Author and activist Maggie Anderson is calling on members of Madison’s business community to include more Black-owned companies in their supply chains. 

“My conscious consumers and my advocates already in the movement, diverse business owners — you too — you have to lead the way,” she said yesterday. “The question for you is, are you ready to compel this change and inspire the rest and fight racism with your buying power, your influence and your individual success?” 

Her remarks came during the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Icebreaker event, held in-person this year for the first time since 2019. She addressed a crowd of nearly 800 attendees at the Kohl Center in Madison. 

Anderson is CEO of The Empowerment Experiment Foundation, which aims to address racial disparities in the U.S. economy, and author of the 2012 book, “Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.” 

In her book, co-authored by former Chicago Tribune reporter Ted Gregory, she detailed her family’s experience with shopping exclusively at Black-owned businesses for one year while living in a Chicago suburb. She said they “spent or otherwise invested” over $94,000 that year in these businesses they would not have otherwise, and over 90 percent of their spending went into predominantly Black areas. 

“We went without. We were disappointed by the number of markets and industries where African Americans still suffer from a complete lack of representation,” she said. 

She highlighted the “food and retail deserts” in these areas, in which residents are “forced to settle for inferior goods and services, extortionate prices and enduring disrespect from shop owners who don’t live in, and hardly hire in the community.” 

Anderson explained the experiment made for a challenging year, highlighting difficulties with finding fresh fruit and clothes that fit her two young daughters. 

“I made my girls eat gas station food like old, putrid bologna and over-priced, over-sugared — I hope it was cereal — for dinner,” she said, noting the only Black-owned grocery store in the area closed five months before the end of the experience. 

The Kellogg School of Management conducted a study based in part on her family’s receipts and the data they collected, Anderson noted. The 2010 study found if African American households with over $75,000 in income increased their spending through Black-owned businesses from 3 percent to 10 percent, 1 million new jobs could be created, she said. 

“This teeny boost of support would have a geometric impact,” she said. “This is the challenge of 2022. This is how the chamber fulfills its charge to make Madison the best place in the country for entrepreneurs of color to own a business.” 

As a comparison, she said any dollars spent within Asian American and Jewish communities typically circulate among their banks, retailers and other businesses for several weeks before going elsewhere. 

“That’s why these groups have the lowest unemployment and incarceration rates, and the highest household incomes and educational achievement,” Anderson said. “In the Black community, the dollar lives six hours. Six hours. This is why racial disharmony and racist systems and structures grow.” 

She added minority suppliers represent just 2 percent of annual spending by Fortune 500 companies, asking attendees: “Are you going to overlook that? Are you going to let that one slide?” 

In an emotional moment near the end of her speech, Anderson revealed she has been battling cancer and removed her wig, receiving a standing ovation. Since being diagnosed in June, she said she’s gone through five surgeries, six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of further treatment. 

“I’ve shown you my strength. Now you show me yours,” she said. 

— Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative is urging federal officials to include market access for dairy products as they develop the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. 

In comments submitted to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Green Bay-based co-op said “the importance of maintaining and expanding export markets is crucial to support milk prices and dairy farm revenues.” 

Edge noted in its comments that southeast Asia received nearly $1.4 billion in U.S. dairy exports in 2021 and represents a growing market for these products. 

“Exports are essential for balance of the U.S. milk supply and demand, growth of the industry and, at the end of the day, the dairy farmers’ milk checks,” the group wrote. “With growing global demand for dairy products, notably across the Indo-Pacific Region, it is only reasonable that the U.S. seek to tackle the lowest barrier to entry, market access.”

President Biden announced plans in October for the new framework, which could be launched as soon as next month, according to a release. 

As one of the largest agricultural co-ops in the country, Edge represents about 900 dairy farmers throughout the Midwest. 

See more on the framework: 

See Edge’s letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai: 

See the release: 

— COVID-19 disease activity is increasing across much of the state, with about two dozen counties seeing a growing trajectory in cases over the past two weeks. 

That’s an increase from just eight counties in the prior two-week period ending April 5, the Department of Health Services site shows. 

Meanwhile, the number of counties in the “medium” category for case activity has dropped from 16 to 10, as several counties moved into the “high” category. And Buffalo County has moved from “high” to “very high,” reflecting the increased case burden in the area. 

Between March 30 and April 12, the state’s overall case burden remained in the “high” level with 152.3 cases per 100,000 people, the DHS site shows. 

Medical College of Wisconsin President and CEO Dr. John Raymond noted “we as a state have never been better than high levels of COVID-19 transmission” in a recent Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce webinar. 

“So even though your individual risk might be low, especially if you’re vaccinated and wearing masks while you’re in crowds, we still have a high rate of community transmission, so that would be over 100 cases per 100,000 people,” he said.

See the latest county-level data here: 

— A spokeswoman for Dane County’s health department says “there are no plans” to resume masking as the county and state see a small rise in COVID-19 case numbers. 

Morgan Finke, communications coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County, notes the county remains in the “low” category under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s community levels guidelines. 

“As such, we encourage everyone to make decisions based on their own comfort levels,” she said in an email. “As we’ve done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to monitor these metrics and adjust recommendations as needed; but there are no plans to reinstate a face covering order in Dane County at this time.” 

The county’s latest emergency order requiring face coverings in public indoor places expired at the start of March. 

While the overall number of COVID-19 cases at the national level continues to decline, a number of states including Wisconsin are seeing slight increases in virus activity. Philadelphia this week became the first major city in the United States to reinstate a mask mandate. 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i>

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— Marquette University’s College of Business Administration has added five executives as mentors in its executive-in-residence program. 

Tim Hanley, acting Keyes Dean of the college, was named the university’s first executive-in-residence in 2019, according to a release. 

“We are excited to expand the opportunity across several areas, where these successful executives will be able to work directly within our college,” Hanley said in the release. 

The new mentors include: Mark Naidicz, the former vice president of human resources for biopharmaceutical company AbbVie; Bob Love, a former partner at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers; Jim Stollberg, founder and president of Brookfield-based Gemini Global Advisors; Dan Tranchita, former managing director and senior portfolio manager at Baird; and David Reeves, former president of California-based OpenGov Inc. 

See the announcement: 

— An “action accelerator” event in La Crosse today will feature several expert panels discussing early child care and education in the state. 

Panelists will highlight the economic impact of related initiatives, employer programs, the small business perspective and more.

Today’s event is being hosted by the 7 Rivers Alliance and Competitive Wisconsin, with co-hosts UW-La Crosse, the Wisconsin Counties Association and Western Technical College. is also involved in the event.

It’s being held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lunda Center. Attendees can register to join in person or virtually.

Register to attend here:

Register to join virtually here:


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– DNR seeking comments on Portage County CAFO permit


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– WisDOT gets offers for more than $160M worth of work in April letting

– Lake Mendota Drive project seeks to balance history and upgrades


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