The new urban innovation and co-working center being built in Milwaukee has been given a significant boost with a hefty donation from a well-known public figure.
The Milwaukee County executive, investor and philanthropist Chris Abele has gifted $300,000 to the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin to fund the chamber’s project that’s expected to come online this spring.
Construction on the center, located at 1920 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, is currently underway. It will have a commercial kitchen tailored for baking for growing caterers and other businesses, private offices, a coffee shop and retail space.
The gift from Abele makes up nearly half of the total project cost of $650,000 and is the largest gift for the project so far. Given the size of Abele’s donation, the center will be called the Chris Abele Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space.
“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,” chamber president and CEO Ossie Kendrix said of Abele. “Chris understands the importance of opening spaces where African Americans have traditionally been shut out, and that is why I am proud to name this new space The Chris Abele Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space.”
Abele’s term as Milwaukee County executive ends in April. He previously told the Milwaukee Business Journal that when his term ends, he’d like to focus on reinvesting proceeds from his venture capital fund, CSA Partners, into local nonprofits, initiatives and startup companies, along with making himself available to socioeconomic and philanthropic causes.
“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,” Abele said. “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.”
Kendrix hopes Abele’s donation sparks interest from other philanthropists in Milwaukee to give to the project. Kendrix recently spoke with the Business Journal in detail about the project in a podcast episode.
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