Rock County Jumpstart and the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce have signed an agreement to work together to support Latino-owned businesses in Rock County.
The nonprofit organization Rock County Jumpstart works to support Black and Latino-owned businesses in Beloit and surrounding communities. Both organizations are recipients of Minority Business Development Grants (MBDG) from the state Department of Administration.
“We’re going to explore opportunities for joint programming,” said Rock County Jumpstart founder Genia Stevens. “We’re going to develop programs and services that support Black and Latino business owners, which will allow us to increase economic equity for our members. support small businesses by creating resources for them that will help their business.”
The partnership is one of several the Latino Chamber is forging with local agencies across the state as part of its Latino Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD) initiative, said Chamber president Jessica Cavazos. The goal of the initiative is to “ is to go to communities that have the biggest gaps of service and create, create a unified effort with other (organizations), whether they’re chambers or business alliances, or minority or BIPOC-serving organizations like Genia’s, to create a partnership or a unified effort to invest in communities that our divestiture they don’t, but I always say is that we want to be the the bridge, you know, from from economic vitality and meeting the needs of business owners that that need resources and support,” Cavazos said.
“At this time, we have had a 12% annual growth in the businesses Jumpstart has worked with, and that is just our Black-owned businesses,” Stevens said. “So with opening up our services to Latino owned businesses, I can’t even imagine what that growth is going to look like.”
The memorandum of understanding calls for exploration of collaborative programming opportunities and bilingual support, as well as joint advocacy with elected officials. In the coming months, the partners intend to co-fund a part-time position to specifically support Latino business owners.
“It’s a win-win because there are things that Genia can offer our constituents in Beloit that we don’t have, like a space to operate out of, and her knowledge of the geographic area and who’s out there,” Cavazos said. “And right now our chamber really cares about not only starting businesses, but helping the longevity of businesses that are already in existence. We want to make sure that they have a fighting chance, and they can grow and they can scale.”
Stevens said she hopes to partner with other MBDG recipients as well, including the Madison-based Collaboration for Good. The ultimate goal for Stevens is to secure a location for Black and Latino-owned businesses to thrive, similar to the Sherman Phoenix building in Milwaukee.
“Our biggest goal is to open our own marketplace or shopping center … that our black and Latino business owners can call a home of their own,” Stevens said. “Our goal is to open the standalone marketplace within the next three to five years.”