Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
September 2004
Governor Renews Minority State Spending Goals / Honors 2004 Minority Business of the Year

MARKETPLACE 2004, in cooperation with the SBA, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and our local partners, the Wisconsin Minority Business Opportunity Committee (WMBOC), convened at the Ho Chunk Hotel & Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, for the Governor's 23rd Annual Conference on Minority Business Development. The focus of the conference, held on September 21-22, was to recognize, promote, and celebrate the achievements of the state's minority-owned businesses.

With some 400 in attendance, Marketplace 2004 was a huge success in affording minority businesses the opportunity to identify, prepare for, and acquire capital and support services. It also served as a forum to allow minority businesses to showcase their products and services to government procurement officers and corporate buyers.

The Awards Dinner began with a keynote address by Gregory White, co-founder and partner of Chicago Venture Partners, LP, a venture capital fund that has invested in 13 companies over the last six years with its $45 million fund. He shared his plan to launch a new, Wisconsin-based private equity fund, and talked about the importance of participating in advanced entrepreneurial training. White's address did not end with inspiration, it was at the same time instructional, urging Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) to consider building wealth through existing business acquisition. According to White, acquisition is the smartest, leanest, best way to build wealth. Acquisition of existing successful businesses is, in White's words, "a win-win situation. Your new company has already gone through the risky start-up phase, has already grown in capacity, and this growth strategy allows the MBE to buy the talent so often missing in small start-up businesses".

Marketplace 2004 was the 23rd conference of its kind in Wisconsin. Since 1983, the U.S. President has proclaimed a National MED Week observance to recognize the outstanding achievements of MBEs and to honor those corporations and financial institutions that support minority business development. This year the two celebrations were married and the Governor shared center stage with dignitaries from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) Office of Government Contracting and Business Development.

Each year the Governor awards a select group of individuals, organizations, and businesses with special recognition and commendation for their efforts and performance in the area of Minority Business Development. The hallmark of the conference is the annual Minority Business of the Year Award. This year it was presented to a fast growing integrated custom-injection molding solutions enterprise with a global footprint, Custom Service Plastics (CSP). Minoo Seifoddini, President of CSP, and her CSP team, including Vice President John Stewart, and Plant Engineer Rex Pipke, exemplify the ideal in entrepreneurship through their vision, teamwork, and commitment to exemplary quality standards.

This year the Governor made four awards to MBEs that attained a level of excellence in state procurement demonstrated by exceeding existing benchmarks in state procurement dollars. The awardees for the Governor's 2004 MBE Excellence in State Procurement are:

  • Byron Bishop of APA of Madison
  • Bob Wangard of Cartridge Savers
  • Jon Gramling of The Madison Times Weekly Newspaper
  • Ceylon King of Standing Stone Erecting

Additionally, the Governor awarded for the first time ever, the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award. This award is given in recognition of a minority entrepreneur who has shown meritorious achievement in developing a new business concept with intentions of launching it to the marketplace. The Entrepreneurial Excellence Award went to Pradeep Jain of Intuistic Solutions.

A technology company that enables people to protect their products, and themselves, from the inherent liabilities of the digital world won the Governor's New Business of the Year Award. The winner of the 2004 New Business of the Year Award went to Dr. Prashanth Darba, President and CEO of SMARTSOFTKEY Inc.

Two awards are given in the category of Distinguished Minority Business Loan Recipient. The Minority Business Development Loan Program is designed to provide financial assistance for the start-up and expansion of minority- owned businesses in Wisconsin. This program provides low interest loans to assist in the development of minority-owned companies. This year's winners are Phoenix International and Minh Ta, President of International Laser Engraving.

Each year the Governor awards the Wisconsin Minority Business Advocate Award to an individual in recognition of model leadership and advocacy in the area of Minority Business Development. This year's Advocate Award went to Minority Business Development Board Member, Bill Cadotte. Bill has been an energetic, dynamic board member since 1989.

Finally, the 2004 Marketplace Pioneer Award recognizes an individual who has historically and consistently shown outstanding commitment, leadership, and mentoring through a pattern of meaningful financial contribution or in-kind support. Mr. George Stinson of General Converters and Assembly is Governor Doyle's Pioneer Award winner.

-- Mary Perich

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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