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Minority conference shows government’s swifter side

Randy Crump is CEO of Prism Technical Management & Marketing Services LLC, Milwaukee

Government, especially in recent times, has been pegged as slow and all but useless – much like a sloth.

Sloths are the slowest of all mammals and sleep a majority of the time. When they are awake, sloths only move when they have to – much like many a football fan on Sunday afternoons.

It’s easy to make the government to sloth connection if you’ve ever stood in line waiting to be served by a government employee who should have quit or been fired years ago. Yet it must be understood that this person does not personify the government as a whole. And, in fact, there are more purposeful creatures within our government ranks.

This was demonstrated this past week when the state of Wisconsin, led by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., convened the 31st Governor’s Conference on Minority Business Development, known as MarketPlace, at the Potawatomi Bingo-Casino Conference Center. The event included ethnic minorities, women and disabled veteran-owned businesses under an appropriate theme, “Driving Innovation with Diversity: Fueling the Competitive Engine.”

MarketPlace was a yearlong culmination of work by ethnic chambers representing the African American, Hispanic, Native American, and Hmong communities; organizations focused on women and veteran issues; various state agencies; and the city of Milwaukee. The program highlighted the startup and continuation of microloan programs by the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – Wisconsin, and the Hmong and Native American chambers – all of which were assisted with financial support from WEDC and the Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. The new programs at the HCCW and AACC are both supported by Wisconsin Business Development Corp., with more banking support coming from Tri City National Bank and Associated Bank, respectively.

It was a pleasure to observe the organized project management, team work, efficiency of execution and follow through of multiple governmental units to create the microloan/revolving loan programs, as well as the cooperation between multiple agencies to host the conference.

WEDC has had some challenges while morphing itself into a lean, business-like organization, but it continues to forge ahead, creating a much more effective and agile entity that will pay significant benefits for many years to come.

In particular, I salute outgoing Secretary/CEO Paul Jadin, Vice President for Business & Industry Development Lee Swindall and Minority Business Development Manager Seyoum Mengesha. These men, and the people who support them, work hard each and every day (including weekends) to help small-, minority-, women- and disabled veteran-owned businesses, in anything but a sloth-like fashion. Through the transition and adversity, they got the job done … sort of like the indomitable honey badger.

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