By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Dec 06, 2023 at 4:56 PM Photography: The Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce Facebook

Friday may mark the end of the work week, but it'll be all business at the Baird Center as the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce will host its second annual Black & Diverse Business Showcase

Hosted from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., this all-day entrepreneur extravanganza will help educate, enlighten and hopefully inspire diverse business owners in the area, with the help of starry guest speakers, engaging  networking opportunities, spotlights on local businesses on the rise, coaching sessions ... and even a legendary Green Bay Packer making an appearance. (OnMilwaukee is a proud sponsor of the event.) There will be a lot of thoughtful and thorough business and entrepreneurship conversations rumbling throughout the Baird Center – but also plenty of fun and festivities, because it is the start of the weekend after all. 

Here are six reasons why the Black & Diverse Business Showcase will be TGIF-worthy this weekend. (And to make sure you don't miss out, register right here.)

1. Stellar speakers and stars

The Black & Diverse Business Showcase is all about business – and when it comes to the event's spotlight speakers and appearances, it means business. 

Starting off the day will be global business consultant Coach LaTasha Brooks, serving as the keynote speaker for the morning session from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. with a discussion about strategies for government contracting success for a wide range of business types. Then, for the showcase's afternoon session running from 2-4:30 p.m., the event will welcome Dr. George C. Fraser, an iconic business entrepreneur, speaker and author whose written, spoken and organized for decades on the topics of Black business, entrepreneurship and networking.

And, because it wouldn't be a Wisconsin event without a dash of green and gold, the showcase will host meet-and-greet sessions with Super Bowl champ and Packers icon Antonio Freeman. There will be two sessions – one starting at 1:30 p.m., the other beginning at 5 p.m. – both accessible for $75 minimum donation. So whether you're about catching business tips or catching touchdowns, the Black & Diverse Business Showcase has you covered. 

2. Coaching at the speed of business

Business moves fast – but speed coaching moves even faster. Assembled by the Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), the showcase's speed coaching session – hosted from 1:30-5 p.m. – will give attendees a chance to chat with business experts in one-on-one interactions, gaining expertise and advice in a fast-paced but personalized format. And because of the setup, attendees can register for more than one session, getting advice from multiple knowledgeable business minds all in one single afternoon. It's a perfect way to learn a lot good information from a lot of good resources in just a little time. Register for your sessions today!

3. Time to party!

We've talked a lot of business; now it's time to party! In addition to music from Christopher's Project throughout the showcase, topping off the day-long event at 5 p.m. is the TBWCC Gala, a festive and fun celebration of local Black and diverse business, complete with a delicious dinner and music to make you move from DJ LBoogie. Throughout the good times, the gala will pay tribute and give a deserving bow to recent Black and diverse business excellence and achievements throughout the community. And hopefully the gala will help spark more remarkable success stories in the future, as those in attendance will also help select the winning entrepreneurs from the TBWCC's pitch competition, with the victorious entrepreneurs winning $10,000 toward their business ambitions. It's a perfect way to end the showcase: a party with a purpose and some real power.

4. A top shopping option

There's going to be a lot of talk at this showcase about supporting local Black and diverse business – so of course the event will give attendees a great chance to literally put their money where their mouths are with an emerging local business and retail marketplace on the premises. Hosted throughout the entire day-long symposium, the market area will highlight all sorts of retail shops, vendors and local businesses showing off their impressive work and services. Come for the excellent business and entrepreneurship advice and motivation, leave with some of the perfect holiday gifts you've been searching for this season!

5. A next-level networking opportunity

Obviously the panels, speakers and parties are the spotlight elements of the Black & Diverse Business Showcase, but arguably the most important and critical part of the day-long event is what can take place in between all the glossy showcases: networking. With an event packed with fellow entrepreneurs and business owners from around the area, the showcase will serve as a great chance to meet like-minded and open-minded people, swap stories and ideas, learn about others' experiences, gain new insights and advice, and maybe even form a connection with a great future collaborator, partner or just all-around friend. It's people, after all, that make a business – and the Black & Diverse Business Showcase marks a great chance to introduce yourself to a lot of wonderful ones. 

6. Continuing to move Milwaukee forward

Starting and running a business is hard work – but it's even harder as a Black or diverse business. That's a national problem – as of last year, only 2.4 percent of all businesses in the United States are Black-owned – but also particularly a Wisconsin and Milwaukee problem, with Milwaukee ranking eighth for the lowest percentage of Black-owned businesses amongst major metros and the state landing as the fourth worst in the nation for minority entrepreneursearlier this year. 

Work has been made in recent years to improve these stats – and The Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce and events like Friday's showcase are a way to keep pushing Milwaukee and the state forward, sharing knowledge and resources, give a stage and a spotlight to businesses on the rise and overall cultivating a community where Black and diverse entrepreneurship can thrive. And with Friday's showcase, you can be a part of that progress and help continue moving Milwaukee forward toward a bright future for all. (All while having some fun and learning from cool people in the process!)

The Black & Diverse Business Showcase will take place Friday, Dec. 8 from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Baird Center (aka the former Wisconsin Center). For more information on the event – and most importantly how to register to attend – visit the showcase's website. And for more updates, events and initiatives, check out the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce's website and social media

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.