African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin
Press Release

The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin Announces $300,000 Donation to Complete the Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space

Philanthropist Chris Abele's generous donation to the Legacy Campaign will support a workspace and programmatic resources for Chamber members and entrepreneurs

The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin today announced a generous $300,000 gift from philanthropist Chris Abele to the Legacy Campaign to continue build out and renovate the Co-Working and Innovation Space. The building, located at 1920 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, was formerly a vacant storefront and is expected to be complete by Spring 2020.

“On the eve of Black History Month, 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 Chamber President & CEO Ossie Kendrix. “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.”

“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 Chamber Board Chair Deborah N. Allen.

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 be built out with a coffee shop and retail space.

“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.”

Chris Abele’s generous $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.

“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,” continued Abele. “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.”

The campaign is chaired by Deborah Allen, DNA Network, Susan Lloyd, Lloyd Consulting and Greg Wesley, Medical College of Wisconsin. For more information and to make a contribution to the Legacy campaign, visit the Chamber website at https://www.aaccwi.org/legacy.

“The Chris Abele Legacy Co-Working and Innovation Space will provide a collaborative environment for under-resourced members and entrepreneurs in our community. In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.’ Through his donation, Chris Abele, and other donors to this cause, will improve Milwaukee now and in many, many years to come,” said Kendrix.

The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin champions the growth and sustainability of African American owned businesses by providing access to capital, education and advocacy through capacity building and strategic partnerships. The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin has more than 200 members including small businesses and corporate members, individuals and nonprofits. Members have unparalleled opportunities to connect with peers, current and prospective clients and partners up and down the supply chain. Funding is provided by Badger Philanthropies, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and through donations.

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The Legacy Co-Working & Innovation Space receives major contribution from the Johnson Controls Foundation to continue completion of workspace for Chamber members and entrepreneurs.

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