Partners in a unique new business incubator are convinced the best ways to bring economic opportunities to Milwaukee’s central city are right in their own backyard.
“Building from Within” is the theme of a free business incubator session designed to stimulate resident-owned businesses in Milwaukee’s central city. Planned by Ald. Russell W. Stamper II, St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care and the North Avenue Marketplace Business Improvement District (BID) 32, the incubator’s kickoff session will be Wednesday, June 29, 1:30 to 5 p.m. at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus, 2450 W. North Avenue.
“There are business hopefuls with enormous potential living right in this neighborhood,” says Sister Edna Lonergan, president of St. Ann Center, an all-ages day care that opened a new campus in the 15th Aldermanic District last September. The incubator is an effort to avoid business gentrification and the influx of national chains in the district, Lonergan added. “People from the neighborhood who have worked hard to maintain the beauty of their culture and the strong character of their community deserve to be recognized and involved in creating and benefiting from its future successes,” she said.
Residents from the 15th Aldermanic District (53205, 53206, 53208, 53210 and 53212 zip codes) interested in starting or expanding a business are asked to complete a brief questionnaire explaining their business ideas. Economic development professionals will review the submissions and choose 20 aspiring entrepreneurs with the most viable business ideas to attend the incubator session. Participants will have a chance to meet one-on-one with investors, talk about their business ideas, receive coaching on developing a business plan and possibly find backers for their venture.
“The District is on the rise,” said Ald. Stamper. “We as a community are growing economically and aesthetically, and what better way to continue that growth than by developing businesses with the people who live in this community?”
Jacqueline Ward, executive director of the North Avenue Marketplace BID 32, sees the incubator as a “catalytic project” for the neighborhood. “”To change the economic landscape in emerging communities, we must find creative and innovative ways to support local entrepreneurs,” she said. “This project was developed to address this challenge.”
The incubator session will begin with success stories from neighborhood entrepreneurs who will speak about their experiences with their own business startups. Investors, bankers and lawyers will also be on hand to discuss the services they can provide—from identifying funding resources to offering legal and marketing support.
The incubator questionnaires have been distributed to neighborhood businesses and churches throughout the 15th District. They are also available at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus and can be completed online at stanncenter.org/biz. Questionnaires must be submitted by Friday, June 10.
Residents interested in the business incubator, as well as investors who would like to participate in networking and mentoring opportunities, can contact John Jansen with questions or for more information at (414) 977-5031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.