Urban League of Greater Madison: Hundreds attend historic Black Business Hub groundbreaking ceremony

(Madison, Wis.) (Apr. 22, 2022) – The Urban League of Greater Madison broke ground a historic Black Business Hub project today. The $25.5 million project located in South Madison is the largest project in the organization’s history, and a part of a larger renaissance in the South Madison corridor, an area that has long experienced under-investment. 

Urban League CEO, Dr. Ruben Anthony, noted that he was “overjoyed by the community’s excitement for the project. With over 400 RSVPs leading up to the event, I am more confident than ever that what we are doing here is exactly what the community wants – creating a vibrant center for commerce, for innovating, and for gathering.” 

The Black Business Hub is an innovative Black-led, place-based project that seeks to provide a transformational ecosystem for underserved businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive. The hub will be a one-stop-shop focused on supporting businesses and entrepreneurs through incubation, acceleration, and networking programs and services. This includes training, educational support, loans, grants, business coaching and mentoring, networking opportunities, shared services, and much more.

Today’s event included two big announcements. First, United States Senator Tammy joined by video to announce that she had secured a $1,000,000 federal appropriation for the project. This brings the project’s total funds raised up to nearly $18.5 million towards the Urban League’s goal of $25.5 million. In her recorded remarks, Sen. Baldwin noted that “The Hub is a long overdue investment. The Hub will serve as an incubator for entrepreneurs and innovators, empowering and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.” 

The second big announcement came from Summit Credit Union CEO, Kim Sponem who announced that Summit will open a new branch in the Hub. Sponem noted that “We are excited to place a Summit branch in the Hub as part of our commitment to economic development by leveraging our many financial wellness programs and products to assist businesses, entrepreneurs and families with their financial needs.” Summit is Wisconsin’s No. 1 Small Business Administration (SBA) lender among credit unions for the 11th consecutive year, creating perfect synergy with the programming planned for The Hub. 

These announcements build on the momentum that has been building since last fall, which has included announcements such as:

  • The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announcing that they will locate their offices in The Hub.
  • $1,000,000 donations from Pleasant Rowland Foundation and CUNA Mutual Group Foundation.
  • A $500,000 donation an announcement of plans to also takeup space in The Hub by Exact Sciences as part of their strategy to build a more diverse supplier network and build their talent pool. Partnership with the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and gener8tor to provide entrepreneurial training and technical assistance.
  • Establishment of a loan/grant pool and technical assistance programming that was jumpstarted by a $400,000 grant from American Family Insurance which has grown to over $2 million with funding since provided by WEDC, Schlecht Family Foundation, and the Sylvia T. O’Neill Together We Build Wealth Fund which was established by Sylvia’s daughter Jan with donations from numerous individuals to honor Sylvia’s lifelong commitment to equity.

 The project has also received extensive public support. Last month, Governor Evers announced a $5 million grant was awarded to the project at the request of Dane County and the City of Madison through the ARPA-funded Neighborhood Investment Fund. The City of Madison and the City of Madison Community Development Authority (CDA) provided ULGM with the land for the project and will be collaborating on future phases of development to the Village on Park site where the project is located to further activate the site, bring more affordable housing, institute innovative new environmental sustainability and resilience features, and much more. Dane County was the first to step with a $100,000 planning and feasibility study grant followed by a $2 million commitment to support The Hub’s construction. 

“The Hub will be transformational for generations of Black entrepreneurism in the Madison region. It will also be transformational for South Madison, and for the entire Madison region. It will create jobs, generate wealth, incubate new ideas, nurture talent, and so much more,” says ULGM President and CEO Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., PhD. 

The Hub will be a nearly 80,000 square foot center located at the corner of Park Street and Hughes Place. It will offer retail storefront spaces of various sizes, pop-up vending opportunities, office space, co-working spaces, a rentable commercial kitchen, spaces for training, meetings, and networking events including a rooftop patio, and much more at below market rents to support emerging businesses. The Hub will also have space for mission aligned commercial tenants resulting a one-stop shop for small business and economic development services unlike anything ever seen in the region. 

Innovative and holistic projects like the Hub that support the black business sector are essential to economic development in the region and the country. In fact, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institute, if the number of Black businesses matched the population size and the revenue of non-Black businesses’ revenue, then the total revenue of Black businesses could increase by as much as $5.9 trillion creating a shift in generational wealth to include more of the Black community. 

The campaign still has seven million dollars to raise to reach its goal of $25.5 million. If you are interested in supporting the Black Business Hub please visit the ULGM website www.ulgm.org/black-business-hub for more information on giving opportunities. 

PRESS CONTACT: Ed Lee, ULGM VP, [email protected]