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Milwaukee

Biden touts economic gains for Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee visit

todayDecember 20, 2023

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Biden Touts Economic Gains for Black-owned Businesses in Milwaukee Visit
Biden Touts Economic Gains for Black-owned Businesses in Milwaukee Visit

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden visited Milwaukee to highlight his administration’s efforts supporting Black-owned business creation and entrepreneurship. Speaking at the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, Biden drew connections between policy actions since 2021 and new census data showing unprecedented growth in Black-owned businesses over the past two years.

As part of the trip, President Biden also announced the Grow Milwaukee Coalition was selected as one of 22 finalists for the Economic Development Agency’s $190 million Distressed Area Recompete Pilot program. The initiative aims to fund community-driven blueprints for economic revitalization within neighborhoods facing systemic barriers to opportunity.

Biden Outlines How His Policies Have Spurred Black Business Boom

Emphasizing domestic investments like the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden explained how stimulus measures have catalyzed business starts and hiring – especially within disadvantaged minority communities:

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating jobs and opportunity. Since I took office, Americans have filed 15 million applications to start new businesses – a modern record. At the same time, Black-owned businesses have grown fastest in over 30 years,” stated Biden.

The positive trends align closely with major funding increases since 2021 for community lenders and technical support tailored to entrepreneurs of color. Organizations nationwide received over $12 billion, enabling historically marginalized groups to qualify for business capital and counseling.

State programs funded via Biden’s American Rescue Plan in Wisconsin supplied an extra $148 million to small enterprises over the past two years.

Right-leaning politicians aim to reverse this progress by repealing the Inflation Reduction Act tax credits, blocking infrastructure upgrades, and ending healthcare cost reductions benefiting small employers.

Recompete Program Investments Targeting Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor

While in Milwaukee, Biden announced the Grow Milwaukee Coalition was among 22 groups named finalists for Recompete program funding under the CHIPS and Science Act.

After decades of manufacturing decline, the central city 30th Street Corridor contains high levels of blight, disinvestment, and barriers to residents’ access to quality jobs.

Coalition initiatives totaling $50 million would energize business expansion and environmental remediation along vacant rail parcels and industrial sites. The group aims to prepare “pad-ready” tracts, enabling advanced manufacturing facilities to add hundreds of new positions.

Partner organizations such as Northwest Side Community Development Corporation and WRTP | Big Step would simultaneously create training and apprenticeship on-ramps so unemployed area residents can achieve family-supporting wages, benefits, and career mobility.

Goals include adding 1,000 new small business manufacturing jobs over five years and preparing over 300 disadvantaged job seekers to fill technical operator and technician roles through paid upskilling courses. Efforts explicitly target equitable access, expanding minority business ownership, and bringing economic vitality into Milwaukee’s poorest Black neighborhoods.

The Recompete approach recognizes that hiring barriers like inadequate transit, criminal records, and lack of credentials have unfairly limited options for central city minorities. Customized workforce solutions right-sized to meet area unemployment challenges can break this cycle of racial inequity and income immobility.

Community leaders will be closely integrated, providing continuous strategic input, oversight, and delivery feedback about assistance programming.

Related links:

Biden Highlights Existing Investments Helping Black and Small Disadvantaged Businesses

While the Recompete announcement underscores new near-term Louisville investments on the horizon, visiting Milwaukee also created a prime opportunity for President Biden to celebrate previous achievements assisting marginalized entrepreneurs nationwide:

  • $10 Billion Investment in State Capital Access – In 2021, the Treasury funded jurisdictions to expand loan and investment funds dedicated toward economically disadvantaged business owners. Wisconsin captured $79 million from this allocation.
  • Record $69 Billion in Federal Contracts with Disadvantaged Firms – Over 11% of all government procurement spending is now awarded to certified Minority, Women, and Veteran-owned businesses.
  • $125 Million for Minority Business Accelerators – Non-profit community partners, including in Wisconsin, are utilizing capacity-building grants to equip new entrepreneurs with coaching, technical skills, mentor networks, and strategic introductions to impact and mission investors.
  • Doubling SBA Lending to Black-Owned Firms – From 2020 to 2022, approved financing for Black entrepreneurs rose by over 100%. Total dollars deployed expanded even faster over the period.

President Biden’s visit to showcase how his economic policies aim to create more equitable opportunities for traditionally marginalized groups comes at a pivotal moment. While recent Census figures validate that Black-owned businesses have rapidly accelerated, reversing previous declines, many underlying challenges remain in play.

Ongoing barriers to minority small business growth include access to credit and capital, contracting and procurement inequalities, scale-up difficulties breaking into corporate supply chains, and far fewer generational assets to leverage for growth than white entrepreneurs.

At the neighborhood level, depressed property valuations and decades of population loss leave Milwaukee with urgent priorities like lead abatement, workforce housing gaps, and infrastructure modernization needs exceeding funding capacity.

However, the collaborative visions and localized support ecosystems represented by groups like the Grow Milwaukee Coalition provide templates for how aligned community stakeholders can build upon inherent strengths while intentionally addressing inclusion shortcomings within past economic development practices.

The integrated focus on minority-owned startups, existing small enterprise growth, industrial redevelopment, and connecting disadvantaged residents to family-wage jobs offers a holistic roadmap for shared growth.

Sustained progress relies on constituencies continuing open dialogues, honoring respective voices, and committing to solution-building over finger-pointing. By confronting racial and economic divides with balance and nuance, perhaps the 30th Street Corridor can pioneer an inclusive prosperity model where long-time residents finally experience substantive change through new manufacturing ventures shaped by a common destiny.

Written with assistance from Claude AI

Written by: HYFIN

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