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MKE Black App: A Guide To Black-Owned Businesses In Milwaukee

Paul Wellington and Rick Banks, creators of the MKE Black app, stand before art of Africa on display at the Sherman Phoenix.
Olivia Richardson
Paul Wellington (left) and Rick Banks (right), creators of the MKE Black app, stand before art on display at the Sherman Phoenix.

A new app in Milwaukee — called MKE Black — is promoting black-owned and operated businesses.

Co-creators Paul Wellington and Rick Banks say they wanted to make it easier to find black businesses as well as make people think a little bit harder about where they spend their money.

"Years ago when I was in school studying economics and political science, I'm thinking about how can we help the black community, how can we make sure that we have thriving businesses in our communities. I just started looking at where's the money going," Banks explains. "I saw that a lot of the money goes out of the community. We spend all of our money at corporations and businesses that our people don't own, as a result more money leaves the community than comes into the community."  

The pair are optimistic that the app will encourage people of all races to try new businesses and create more opportunities for black businesses.

"We hope that [MKE Black] will increase local buying power in black businesses," Wellington says.  He also hopes that the app will help guide both residents and vistors of Milwaukee to the city's north side.

Credit Olivia Richardson
Screen grabs from the MKE Black app.

When it comes to reviews, Banks and Wellington say they want the app to create a dialogue between businesses owners and customers — rather than creating another space for people to rant about their experiences. 

"Let's lift each other up, rather than tear each other apart," Wellington says.

The MKE Black app launched last month and is still changing and developing. It can be downloaded via the Google Play store and, the co-creators say, it will soon be avaliable through the Apple App store. 

Olivia Richardson
Olivia Richardson became WUWM's Eric Von Fellow in October 2019.