On Thursday, February 21, Madison’s Black Chamber of Commerce will hold its second annual awards and banquet.
The Black Chamber is bringing in major guest speakers and partnering with Madison College, who is hosting the event at the Truax Campus from 5:30 to 9 pm. Tickets are $50.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes will join Ugo Nwagbaraocha, President of Diamond Discs International in Milwaukee, and CocoVaa owner Syovata Edari as this year’s speakers.
“Each of them are great entrepreneurs within their own rights,” Black Chamber President Camille Carter told Madison365. “Certainly we have two successful business owners who have reached international acclaim. They’ll share their journey with the community and share how to reach goals and shoot for the stars. Barnes certainly will speak to the economic and business development outlook for Wisconsin and particularly why it’s important for black-owned businesses to remain relevant and sustainable here in Wisconsin.”
Black owned businesses have in fact been enjoying a steady rise in success around Dane County, Carter said. According to Carter, the Black Chamber has identified over 400 black owned businesses around Madison, whether they be brick-and-mortar or online enterprises.
“The environment is very healthy here for our entrepreneurs to open businesses,” Carter said. “We are seeing upward growth. We’re excited about really highlighting and recognizing some business owners who are doing great things with their business and for their community. We’re excited to offer this again. It’s hard work. But we have some hard working business owners and we want to make sure we highlight how hardworking they are.”
Awards will also be given out to some members of the community but the Chamber is not ready to announce the nominees yet. During the event there will be an exhibit of black-owned businesses in an effort to recognize exceptional businesses and business owners. Several business owners will get a chance to present their businesses to the community. Madison365 was honored as “Media of the Year” at last year’s event.
Last year’s event was a huge success and Carter says that the Chamber wanted to bring it back this year in a way that would show how much growth there has been in the community and how much work people are putting into making Madison a fertile ground for businesses of color.
“We keep a very busy and active calendar year round,” Carter said. “So back August we had black restaurant week and that’s a big event for our Chamber. It seems as if we just got through finishing that and had the holidays and we’ve been off into this already! A lot of energy is going into this and a lot of work. The energy is very high. We are also experiencing a great deal of reception from the black business community. They want this. They want to be recognized.”
Carter says it is also exciting to be partnering with Madison College. Under the leadership of President Jack Daniels III, Madison College has stepped up its presence in the community and has especially been visible in helping highlight communities of color, Carter said.
Madison College will also be providing a shuttle and valet for guests to ease the burdens of walking in the cold during the event.