Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
October 2006
New Governor's Initiative Aids Minority Business Growth

Since 2003, state spending on products and services from minority-owned businesses has increased by 14 percent. To build on that progress, Governor Jim Doyle recently announced the "Get Started, Get Growing" initiative for Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), at the 25th Annual Marketplace, the Governor's Conference on Minority Business. I joined the Governor in Milwaukee as he unveiled the program to over 400 MBE owners/businesspersons.

Following is a summary of the new initiative, which directly addresses the two challenges we hear most frequently expressed by people of color – the availability of capital and help in expanding business capabilities.

"Get Started, Get Growing"

  • Expansion of the Wisconsin Entrepreneur's Network (WEN) to focus on Minority Business Development
    • A new Outreach Specialist will provide one-on-one and group assistance for minority entrepreneurs and small businesses.
    • WEN will provide a stronger link for minority businesses to resources available by the state, including loans, grants, and technical assistance.
  • 'Get Started' Micro Loan Program
    • New entrepreneurs will have access to start-up loans up to $5,000.
    • Loans will have an interest rate of 2%, significantly lower than other financing available.
    • No collateral will be necessary and the principal can be deferred for 3 years.
  • 'Get Growing' Loan Program
    • Loans up to $100,000 available for new businesses looking to expand.
    • Will provide access to working capital and capital investment.
    • The Department of Commerce will share half the loan with another lender.
  • Scholarships to PeerSpectives - Peer Learning Programs
    • The Department of Commerce will provide scholarships for 75 percent of the cost of the $1,500
    • Program will provide proven, successful methods developed by the Edward Lowe Foundation to
      help business owners seeking to grow their businesses.

Gov. Doyle also announced the formation of a new commission dedicated to identifying new ways the state can procure more of our products from minority businesses. The Business Opportunity Advisory Commission will be chaired by Senator Spencer Coggs and Ralph Hollmon. Hollmon is the President of the Milwaukee Urban League and one of the pioneers of the Wisconsin Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program. The MBE initiative is designed to increase the opportunity for Wisconsin certified minority owned companies to sell their products or services to the state.

Finally, the Governor also announced that Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton will lead an effort to streamline the application process for Minority Owned Business Certification. The redesign will be both more efficient and user-friendly.

For the Wisconsin economy to reach its true potential, minority businesses must be able to move forward, win public and private contracts, and have access to the financial and technical assistance they need. I believe the Governor's Get Started, Get Growing initiative can be a catalyst for the growth and development of minority-owned businesses.

-- Mary P. Burke, Secretary

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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