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Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce lands $5 million in federal funds to expand facility

Architectural rendering of The Gateway, set to be completed next year.

The Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce received a large allocation of funding after the United States Senate approved the 2024 funding bill.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate awarded $211 million out of $1.2 trillion for the 2024 fiscal year to Wisconsin for community-driven projects. The projects aim to support affordable housing, expand access to childcare, health, workforce development, law enforcement and many other priorities for communities across Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce is set to receive $5 million of allocated funds in support of its Gateway facility.

“We are immensely grateful for Senator (Tammy) Baldwin’s steadfast support and dedication to advancing entrepreneurship and economic empowerment in Wisconsin,” said Javier Acevedo, Chief Development Officer of the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce. “The Gateway represents a transformative initiative that will provide essential resources and opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners, particularly within our Latino and diverse communities.”

Baldwin, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to secure funds for a slew of community-focused organizations across Wisconsin. She has continuously voiced her support for the Latino Chamber and growing opportunities for Wisconsin’s Latino community.

In total, south central Wisconsin organizations received $15.64 million across the state, with individual allocations ranging from $100,000 to $5 million. The Latino Chamber received the largest sum across the state.

Acevedo said the Latino Chamber, while expecting the news of some funds allocated to the project, were surprised when it got the news that it will receive $5 million for its Gateway facilities.

The Gateway will be a hub currently being built at the Latino Chamber as a one-stop-shop for business services and to provide support and access to capital for Wisconsin’s Latino business community.

The project is working in two phases. First, the Latino Chamber will renovate its new space on Anton Drive in Fitchburg. Last year, it received the Design for A Difference grant for renovations. Renovations are expected to be completed in October. Second, the chamber will expand its space in the spring.

It plans to change the interior to better accommodate training, events, office space, the plans to make a coworking business center and later a commercial kitchen and café that will serve as an accelerator program for aspiring restaurant owners.

“It’s beautiful for Madison. It’s beautiful for Wisconsin to get this level of support for this amazing initiative,” Acevedo said. “I’m personally really grateful to be able to take on this project that she dreamed about and turn it into a reality right for our business community and the everyday folks that come in through our doors.”

The idea captures the dream of the Latino Chamber’s last CEO, Jessica Cavazos, for the Chamber and was one of the last things Juan Jose Lopez worked on before his death in June 2023. Lopez pressed the Latino Chamber to apply for the full $5 million, Acevedo recalled.

With the allocated funds, the Latino Chamber has raised about $7 million of its $15 million goal to complete the Gateway facility.