The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), an AERIS rated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and 501(c)(3) whose mission is to improve the economic well-being of individuals – specifically women, minority, lower-wealth and Veterans, was awarded a $750,000 grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Community Services – Community Economic Development (CED) Program. WWBIC, with more than 30 years of impact as a successful economic development organization combining government and private resources will be dedicating the grant award to Sherman Park and surrounding neighborhoods, including direct support for the Sherman Phoenix Project. The Sherman Phoenix Project alone, anticipates creating 49 new full-time, full year jobs, 37 of which (75%) will be taken and held by low-income individuals in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Sherman Phoenix project will transform a vacant, fire-damaged BMO Harris Bank building into high-quality commercial space for 29 small entrepreneurs, offering prepared foods, wellness services, and arts and cultural activities. With a Fall 2018 completion target and led by local developers Juli Kaufmann and JoAnne Sabir, Sherman Phoenix will be a model for healing our city, generating positive economic and social returns in communities of color. WWBIC is partnering with Sherman Phoenix LLC, to support the tenant buildout, building operations and programmatic costs. WWBIC will use a share of the grant funds to provide quality business and financial educational programming and one-on-one technical assistance to the Sherman Phoenix tenant entrepreneurs and business owners as well as business support in the surrounding neighborhood areas. These DHHS-OCS-CED award funds will also allow WWBIC to assist and support the entrepreneurs and their employees address personal barriers to success by providing financial capability education and coaching to help them gain control over their personal finances, build assets, improve their economic well-being, and move toward economic self-sufficiency.
Investing in inclusive pathways to economic opportunity for our neighborhoods and families allows individuals to thrive. The project will support entrepreneurs of color with mentorship and coaching to help them grow their businesses, generate jobs and support the local economy. Please go to https://www.shermanphoenix.com/tenants to learn more about the tenants of the Sherman Phoenix project.