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Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce plans to create 3,000 new Black-owned businesses by 2024

The Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce
Rueben Hopkins

Earlier this year, Governor Tony Evers awarded more than $86 million in grant money to support and grow small businesses throughout the state. The grants are prioritizing businesses run by diverse, emerging entrepreneurs and new business owners.

The Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce was one of those organizations that was awarded money and with that money, they want to create 3,000 new Black-owned businesses by 2024 in Wisconsin.

Ruben Hopkins is the chairman and CEO of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce (WBCC). He shares more about the 3,000 businesses challenge.

"We'll be engaging people who are interested in being in business. We're going to create a bootcamp where anybody who is and wants to engage and does sign up, we'll help them with startup. If they're already in business, we'll help them with technical assistance or capacity building but it's really just engaging," says Hopkins.

From Hopkins' perspective, the issue is money. And he says the WBCC has the resources to support emerging entrepreneurs and potential new business owners.

With the funding, he explains, he hopes to put resources in the hands of young people or people who are just curious about how to start a business.

Hopkins says when he was trying to build his own business, it helped him understand the importance of building a market and a network. He now wants to support others that are in his shoes.

Even if WBCC doesn't reach the goal, he says the challenge is a call to get the business community active and engaged with communities of color.

"We've got Black leadership at city government, we have Black leadership in county government, the Black business communities just received millions of dollars to create economic development activity. We just have to put the work in and just be open and honest and active," says Hopkins.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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