Bronzeville Neighborhood’s Innovation Space for African American entrepreneurs gets $300K donation
The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin (AACCW) recently announced a generous $300,000 gift from philanthropist Chris Abele to the organizations’s Legacy Campaign, supporting the build-out and renovation of its Co-Working and Innovation Space.
Located at 1920 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, the building was formerly a vacant storefront. Its restoration is scheduled for completion by Spring 2020. AACCW has championed the growth and sustainability of African American owned businesses by providing access to capital, education, and advocacy through strategic partnerships.
“I am proud to have an ally in Chris Abele. He has gone above and beyond to ensure African American entrepreneurs have an inclusive and accessible space to find themselves in the work of innovation,” said Ossie Kendrix, AACCW President and CEO. “Chris understands the importance of opening spaces where African Americans have traditionally been shut out. That is why we will name this new location as The Chris Abele Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space. This will provide a collaborative environment for under-resourced members and entrepreneurs in our community. Through his donation, Chris Abele and other donors will improve Milwaukee now and for many years to come,”
The Chris Abele Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space will provide workspace and programmatic resources for Chamber members and entrepreneurs that includes co-working space, private offices for entrepreneurs available for lease, and a shared commercial kitchen. It will also incorporate a coffee shop and retail space.
“The Chris Abele Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space will be instrumental as we create the space necessary for African American entrepreneurs to build institutional wealth in the communities they serve, and that is one of many reasons we decided to build out the facility in the Bronzeville Neighborhood,” said Deborah N. Allen, AACCW Board Chair.
Chris Abele’s $300,000 donation is the largest gift to the Legacy campaign to date. The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin continues efforts with the Legacy Campaign to raise the funding needed to complete the project in Spring 2020, a year after efforts to build out the space began.
“For the past five years, I have been increasingly focusing my efforts at the County, my personal giving and my business investments towards addressing racial inequity,” said philanthropist Chris Abele. “There is no greater challenge and no moral wrong more worthy of righting than the racial inequities that exist in our community, and I intend to do even more going forward. To every donor, investor, activist and caring citizen who is doing the same, I am truly grateful, and I encourage you to be visible in doing your good work to inspire and encourage others. The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin has always been a strong partner in carrying out this vision. This space will simultaneously provide access for African American business owners and address inequality in entrepreneurship, while being a catalyst for business growth in Milwaukee. I encourage others to join me in supporting a great organization’s evolution into something even better and contribute to this campaign.”