The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is renewing its commitment to community partners in economic development by allocating $1,675,000 for nine regional groups and three diverse chambers of commerce as Key Strategic Partners (KSPs) for the coming year.
WEDC’s ongoing assistance comes at an especially critical time for the regional economic development organizations (REDOs) as they face private-sector funding challenges while supporting their communities in recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses throughout our state, especially the small businesses that many of our key strategic partners work with daily,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “Our relationships with our key strategic partners help put ‘boots on the ground’ in communities that are working to recover.”
The funds provide support to the base level operations and initiatives identified that align with WEDC’s fiscal year 2021 priorities. Each region will receive a grant of $75,000, $100,000 or $125,000 depending on its size, as determined by the Regional Leadership Council.
WEDC relies on REDOs to help carry out its statewide economic development mission, vision and core strategies. The regional groups and amount of funding received are as follows:
- Prosperity Southwest: $75,000
- Centergy: $75,000
- Grow North: $75,000
- Visions Northwest: $75,000
- New North: $100,000
- 7 Rivers Alliance: $75,000
- Momentum West: $75,000
- Milwaukee 7: $125,000
- Madison Regional Economic Partnership: $100,000
Each REDO recognizes it has the potential to play a significant role in furthering the economic development goals of the state. WEDC support in the form of block-style grant funding can assist in their efforts while allowing each the flexibility to focus on the priority issues and opportunities within their respective region.
“We are incredibly grateful to WEDC for their support and partnership,” said Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North Inc. “We do not take lightly our responsibility in aligning our regional strategies with both local partners and the State of Wisconsin in the areas of rural development, diverse business development, business intelligence, marketing, business retention-expansion-attraction efforts and talent development.”
Additionally, WEDC’s relationship with the three diverse chambers of commerce—the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin, the First American Capital Corporation (FACC) and the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (HWCC)—help meet the needs of diverse businesses throughout the state and reflects WEDC’s commitment to ensuring that every community has the resources needed to grow and thrive.
WEDC has budgeted $900,000 in FY21 to these organizations to further increase the capacity to support and foster access to capital and economic development in their respective communities. The KSP allocations include:
- African American Chamber of Commerce: $300,000
- First American Capital Corporation: $325,000
- Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce: $275,000
“It’s so assuring to know that WEDC is on our side as key strategic partner, encouraging us to continue the good work of prioritizing and uplifting Black owned businesses as the Wisconsin community continues to navigate the pandemic, its aftermath, and the economic ruin its caused so many business owners and their families,” said Ossie Kendrix, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin. “Our relationship with WEDC is important and critical to the work that we do.”
“The First American Capital Corporation Inc. is grateful for the continuing opportunity to serve as a WEDC key strategic partner—along with passthrough organizations affiliated with our KSP contract,” said Program Manager Gary Mejchar. “The KSP contract resources FACC to more effectively deliver impactful business management capacity building technical assistance to Native American owned, Tribal enterprises and other disadvantaged businesses statewide, but also direct access to affordable business loans to those frequently not meeting the credit standards of commercial banks. In addition, the KSP status allows FACC staff to directly access and work with WEDC staff, to facilitate engagement and alignment of WEDC and other state resources to better serve our Wisconsin target business market.”
“Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce is proud to have a partnership with WEDC. With WEDC’s support, HWCC has been able to effectively expand its reach to small businesses in economically underserved and disadvantaged communities all around the state,” said Maysee Herr, executive director of HWCC. “In turn, HWCC has been able to provide WEDC valuable input on the experiences of ethnic and diverse small businesses. This partnership is a win-win for all involved and most importantly, for our business clients.”