Latino Chamber President Jessica Cavazos, surrounded by friends from the Latino Chamber, holds her “Wisconsin’s Minority Small Business Champion” at the state’s 34th annual SCORE/SBA Awards Breakfast on May 10 at the Marriott Milwaukee West in Waukesha.

The U.S. Small Business Administration honored Madison’s Jessica Cavazos as “Wisconsin’s Minority Small Business Champion” at the state’s 34th annual SCORE/SBA Awards Breakfast on May 10 at the Marriott Milwaukee West in Waukesha. Cavazos and Laura Gallagher, president of the Creative Company, were two Madisonians among the 16 small businesses and champions from around Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin’s 448,000 small business owners can find inspiration and resources for their own success with these two champions and Wisconsin’s 2019 National Small Business Week award winners,” said Eric Ness, SBA’s Wisconsin district director, congratulating the winners. “They are creating jobs, driving innovation, and increasing America’s global competitiveness.”

Cavazos is the president and CEO of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County. She joined the Latino Chamber in 2016 and has sought to promote economic development and job creation to the Latino community as economic stakeholders. Cavazos has served on many national boards and local boards and was named one of the most powerful Latinos in Wisconsin.

Jessica Cavazos is the “Minority Small Business Champion” for Wisconsin.

“The award is given to a recipient that has worked to advoacte on behalf of small businesses every day – promoting ownership growth and the success of small business in the state,” Cavazos tells Madison365. “I was very excited to get this award because there were some very wonderfully qualified people on the nomination list. I was so honored to get this award.”

The room was filled with businesspeople and entreprenuers from different regions throughout the state; although not a lot of people of color, Cavazos says.

“To be honest, I really think it was an honor for us to be there. But we did notice that we didn’t really see any Latino representation except at our table,” Cavazos says. “There were maybe 350 people there, so to be at the cutting edge of creating impact in minority communities and Latino communites was cool. It’s wonderful to get recognized for the work we are doing.

“Maybe this can be a good start on how we can have these conversations on how we can create more impact and how we can fill a room like that with more diverse businessowners and champions,” she adds. “We want to create that space for everybody to have a chance to succeed in business.”

Gallagher was honored at the event as the Wisconsin’s Women in Business Champion. She is president of The Creative Company and the North American regional ambassador and spokesperson for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a global movement. She has brought this highly successful international event to Wisconsin for the past two years, attracting the highest number of participants in any U.S. city both years.

Dane County’s winners: Jessica Cavazos (left) and Laura Gallagher

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of the U.S. SCORE is a resource partner with the SBA. SCORE volunteers work with the SBA to provide small business mentoring and training to entrepreneurs through SBA offices.

“At the Latino Chamber, we’ve really been stressing our government partnerships with SBA and with the SCORE and other government entities,” Cavazos says. “We’ve been able to develop these strong partnerships and become their conduits in these communities and I think that’s an important place to start. Some of what we’ve done at the Chamber is getting our folks to understand that these folks are here to help and create a bridge between our business community and those resources.

“Every day we try to wake up and make an impact and motivate people. We try to take the fear out of starting your own business and provide the encouragement to succeed,” she adds. “For us, it’s what we do and we love to do it. This award, for me, is a start. It’s an opportunity to talk about how we can make opportunities for everyone in the state regardless of their background.”