MCDEVCO Receives a $100,000 Grant from Governor Walker to Help Spur Minority-Owned Business Startups in Marathon County

Written by Brad Karger

Starting a small business is a BIG endeavor. An entrepreneur must have:

  • A solid business plan,
  • A great product to market,
  • A willingness to work long hours,
  • Sufficient startup capital, and
  • Nerves of steel to weather the inherent ups and downs when you’re trying to build something new.

Sometimes a small business skyrockets to success. But most times, the financial rewards are modest while the financial risks are high. In fact, almost half of all new business startups fail in their first year of operation.

Yes… HALF!

Successful entrepreneurs enjoy the satisfaction of building a business of their own. And communities benefit by having one-of-a kind local businesses that add character and diversity to our choices.

Now, I enjoy a night out at Olive Garden as much as anyone, but who doesn’t LOVE local gems like Basil, with their Asian fusion menu?

When we support locally owned businesses, our dollars stay here in our local economy. What’s more… New local businesses generate new local jobs.

That’s why Marathon County is working hard to gain a reputation as the best place in Wisconsin to start a small business.

  • We fund the Entrepreneurial and Education Center’s Entrepreneurial Boot Camp to meet the educational needs of prospective business developers in Marathon County.
  • Our Strategic Plan commits the County to taking action to expand broadband coverage beyond the metro area because we know that current coverage is an impediment to small business development and expansion.
  • We financially support MCDEVCO, a non-profit corporation dedicated to fostering business development and growth in Marathon County; they can provide coaching, technical support, and access to capital to local individuals who dream of owning their own small business.


Starting a minority-owned business can often present additional challenges…

  • Lack of role models among the minority community
  • Limited access to adequate startup capital
  • Cultural norms about risk

Having recognized the importance of minority-owned small businesses to improving the economic health of the minority community, the spillover benefits to the broader community, and MCDEVCO’s record of success, Governor Scott Walker awarded a $100,000 grant to MCDEVCO to launch a new revolving loan fund for minority-owned businesses in Marathon County. The new fund will assist minority entrepreneurs with gap financing, which will allow them to leverage conventional borrowing to secure the startup funds to bring their business dreams to life.

Summer Vang visits with Governor Scott Walker on June 5, 2018, after MDCEVCO received a $100,000 grant to boost minority-owned businesses.

One local entrepreneur you should know about is Summer Vang…

On June 15, 2018, Summer launched her new fashion and lifestyle photography business, Aperturesque, in Wausau. (You can view her portfolio here.) Summer is a 23-year-old Hmong women with a dream of operating a photography business that focuses on her love for fashion.

Summer Vang, owner of Aperturesque, LLC, in Wausau, Wisconsin.
(Photo courtesy of Pana Portraits.)

Summer put in the time and work required by a local Entrepreneurial Boot Camp aimed at accelerating the growth of businesses in Marathon County. She’s prepared herself and her business for success. She also worked with MCDEVCO to understand and plan for her capital needs. She knows that she’ll need to take graduation and wedding pictures for a while before she can focus exclusively on fashion photography.

But that’s all part of her plan…

Summer Vang and Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger at the grand opening of her photography business, Aperturesque, LLC, located in the Education and Entrepreneurial Center in Wausau.

If you know someone like Summer, who dreams of owning a small business in Marathon County, today might just be their lucky day! Encourage them to contact MCDEVCO at 715-298-0084 or to learn what business supports might be available to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality.

(If an individual doesn’t qualify for the funds set aside for minority-owned business startups, MCDEVCO has other funds that aspiring entrepreneurs might qualify for.)

Having more locally owned businesses is good for our community — It brings jobs and enhances the attractiveness of our community.

So, the next time you make a purchase or a restaurant reservation, consider supporting a local business… Or better yet, a new business startup.

You’ll be helping to make someone’s dream
of owning their own business in Marathon County come true!

Brad Karger - Marathon County AdministratorBrad Karger

Marathon County Administrator

In his Administrator role, Brad Karger leads an organization with 700+ employees and an annual budget of more than $165 million. Brad has been in leadership positions with Marathon County for the past 30 years. He is known statewide for generating innovative ideas and solutions to problems, openness and transparency, and a commitment to community service that extends well beyond the normal workday.  Email Brad Karger.

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