Green Bay’s Business Ecosystem Making Progress in supporting minority-owned businesses

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Multi ethnic business team at a meeting. Interacting. Focus on woman

In northeast Wisconsin, minority-owned businesses face significant hurdles in starting and growing their ventures, a challenge local groups are striving to address. Avery Rhenwrick, a St. Norbert College graduate, envisioned a traditional career path but found himself launching an online apparel shop, 4th N Long, amid the pandemic. With initial offerings of t-shirts, his range expanded to include various apparel items, growing through personal networking and community support.

Rhenwrick leveraged resources like a college business class, social media, and connections like his barber and a banker to enhance his business and product quality. His journey exemplifies the potential of utilizing local networks and resources, leading to national and international sales and collaborations, including with NFL personalities.

This story highlights the broader context of minority entrepreneurship in the area. Historically, support focused on larger urban centers in Wisconsin, leaving a gap in Green Bay. However, initiatives like The Blueprint Green Bay aim to provide targeted support for entrepreneurs of color, women, and veterans. The Greater Green Bay Chamber and new professional organizations are working to fill this gap, recognizing the need to support a diversifying population.

Despite the growing support network, minority business owners still face significant barriers, such as access to capital and business development resources. The pandemic underscored these challenges, particularly in securing federal aid. Efforts to improve access to resources and information, like those by Urban Hub, are part of a broader push to address these issues.

Wisconsin’s minority business ownership rates lag behind national averages, with minority-owned businesses also tending to be smaller. Initiatives like ColorBold Business Association and collaborations between various professional groups aim to enhance visibility and support for minority entrepreneurs.

Personal stories of entrepreneurs like Roger Perez and Carmen Cabral echo the common challenges of navigating permits, licenses, and business management without prior knowledge or support. These narratives underscore the importance of community support, tailored programming, and overcoming language and trust barriers to foster a more inclusive and supportive business ecosystem in northeast Wisconsin.

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