On August 16th, 2022, the Urban League of Greater Madison and the Madison Region Economic Partnership hosted its ninth Madison Region Economic Development & Diversity Summit at Monona Terrace. The summit weaves together important conversations on diversity and economic development. It’s offers space for the 600+ participating business executives, community leaders, economic development professionals, educators, elected officials, entrepreneurs and emerging leaders to engage and learn about issues around economy, workforce and community development.

The Mayor addressed the 600+ attendees highlighting the economic inclusion work done at the City of Madison.


Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for inviting me to share a few thoughts.

I would like to start with three statements:

  1. Our economy does not work if it is not working for everyone.
  2. How we spend our money is one of the clearest ways to demonstrate what we value.
  3. The potential represented by the mostly BIPOC youth who are not engaged in education and employment is being lost, and that is having a negative impact on our entire economy.

Which is why, since coming to office, I have been intentionally focused on continuing, advocating and developing new programs and policies that ensures a healthy growth of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women-owned small businesses.

We are investing in young people through internships and apprenticeships at the City and with community partners like Operation Fresh Start and Commonwealth Development. We are funding community based organizations like Dear Diary, Seein is Believin, Bayview, and many more. Madison invests millions of dollars into neighborhood centers, youth employment, out of school time programs, child care and many of the other things that help young people and families thrive.

We have a number of programs focused on supporting entrepreneurship:

  • Small Business Equity and Recovery Program- Introduced in 2020, SBER Grants were designed to provide up to $10,000 in grant funds to businesses owned by people facing historical inequities (POC, Women, LGBTQ+, Veterans, low-income, and people with disabilities). We disbursed over $2,291,868.
  • Commercial Ownership Assistance- Funding for underrepresented business owners to purchase and renovate commercial space.
  • Our pop-up shop pilot program on State Street, now called Culture Collectives, is a collaboration between the Black, Hmong and Latino Chambers, JD McCormick Properties, the BID and other folks in our downtown community. This program provides an opportunity for small businesses to set up shop on state street, gain experience in opening a brick & mortar business, and build their clientele.
  • Seed grants and HRAP that support food-based businesses and increase access to health food in our neighborhoods.
  • Expanded grant programs to support façade improvements and tenant build out of new spaces.

And we have a number of programs to help small, local and targeted business enterprises successfully compete for city contracts:

  • Contracting and Procurement Equity Initiatives- Contracting and procurement equity initiatives are city wide initiatives involving multiple city agencies who reviews, analyzes and implements equitable policies that can increase opportunities for women and people of color.
  • Including our Targeted Business Enterprise Program- work to ensure Small, Minority & Women Business Enterprises, maximize their opportunity to compete for City contracting and procurement opportunities.
  • Recent RFI for sustainability related businesses, with a focus on local and BIPOC-owned businesses.
  • ACRE training program.

We prioritize this work because we believe it is up to us to help build a more just and equitable economy.

We know that the wealth gaps between the white community and BIPOC communities, and the wealth gaps between men and women, are rooted in historic practices like redlining, job discrimination and exclusionary legislation that excluded particularly black Americans from higher paying jobs and home ownership.

We know we can begin to close those gaps by creating more opportunities for meaningful savings, property ownership, credit building and generational wealth.

We know that our communities and our economy does better when small/medium size, BIPOC and women-owned businesses flourish.

I believe many of us in this room are working towards a more inclusive economic eco-system. I want to ask that we all continue that work and not relent even when it appears challenging.

We will certainly need to learn from each other. That is why I appreciate spaces such as this summit that allow for the exchange of ideas and experiences. I hope that each one of you comes away from today with at least one thing you can put into practice right away.

Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the summit.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.

Category: Equity