The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was honored with two awards from the Greater Milwaukee Urban League (GMUL) recently during the League’s annual Equal Opportunity Day Salute to Excellence.
The League presented WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes with the Excellence in Community and Economic Development Award for WEDC’s work to address the needs of diverse businesses and chambers of commerce and for the organization’s efforts to advance worker retention and recruitment following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“WEDC has deepened its commitment to minority businesses under Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes and provided sustainability support during the pandemic,” said Dr. Eve Hall, president and CEO of GMUL. “She has been candid about the need to solve economic gaps, and we are working with WEDC because we recognize that strong minority businesses provide jobs and a boost to local economies.”
Secretary Hughes thanked the Urban League for the award.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have highlighted the gaps in Wisconsin’s economy that must be addressed if our state is going to grow and thrive. Ensuring the economic well-being of every Wisconsinite is the way we build an economy that is more forward-looking, sustainable, and inclusive,” Hughes said.
The League also presented Seyoum Mengesha, Diverse Business Development Director for WEDC, with the Excellence in Economic Advocacy Award for his longtime advocacy efforts on behalf of communities of color.
“I worked with Seyoum prior to taking the helm at the Greater Milwaukee Urban League and experienced his strong advocacy for businesses of color and other underrepresented communities, a commitment he carries to his work every day,” Hall said.
Mengesha also thanked the Urban League for the award.
“It’s an honor to work with diverse business owners throughout our state and connect them with WEDC resources like MARKETPLACE: The Governor’s Conference on Diverse Business, our many direct assistance programs, and partners like the diverse chambers of commerce,” he said.
The annual Equal Opportunity Day event also celebrates the contributions of Whitney M. Young, Jr., who served as Executive Director of the National Urban League from 1961 to his death in 1971.
Young vastly expanded the Urban League and established it as a leader in the civil rights movement. He was instrumental in breaking down barriers of segregation and inequality in hiring practices, other economic equality and education issues and building effective bridges with influential business and political leaders.