March 8, 2021 | By Betsy Lundgren | Back to news
Aerial view of downtown Madison and campus
Photo by Bryce Richter / UW–Madison

A new collaboration with the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce (MBCC) positions the Wisconsin School of Business to bridge the academic resources and knowledge of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with the local business community.

Madison Black Chamber of Commerce logo

The relationship began in Summer 2020 when Leslie Petty, assistant dean of the Wisconsin Evening, Executive, and Professional MBA programs, presented to MBCC members about Black entrepreneurship at the invitation of Camille Carter, president of MBCC. The event offered a meaningful exchange of information, and served as a launchpad for an ongoing partnership that provides a series of learning opportunities on relevant business topics led by WSB faculty and staff.

“I am thrilled about this opportunity to grow our relationship with Black business owners and business professionals in the Madison area,” says Petty. “WSB is home to a wealth of expertise and information, and it’s meaningful to be able to share that with the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce and offer professional development opportunities to its members.”

After an initial engagement last summer, Hart Posen, professor of management and human resources, is offering two workshops on business strategy and innovation in Spring 2021. The 90-minute virtual sessions will focus on helping participants articulate their business strategy, understand the dimensions that make a strategy successful, and develop insights on deploying business strategy during times of economic challenge and change.

Later in the year, Jean Sink, director of career management and corporate partnerships for the Wisconsin Evening, Executive, and Professional MBA programs, will lead discussions on personal and business branding.

“Since COVID-19 began, I’ve been wanting to work on offering a deeper dive into subject matters,” says Carter. “I’ve been developing continual series, rather than one-off workshops, that provide more impact and offer more than one opportunity for our members to engage with content. So, this led me to connect with Leslie to understand how we might create a bridge with the university and leverage the resources there.”

The Wisconsin Idea calls us to extend the resources of this university beyond the boundaries of campus, and this partnership allows us to do just that.

—Leslie Petty

Carter describes MBCC as a relatively young organization, having formed in 2014. With membership comprised mainly of small-business owners and entrepreneurs who represent more than 400 Black-owned businesses, the chamber is “building forward,” in Carter’s words, as it grows its programming and establishes relationships with entities like WSB.

“We are a nimble, lean organization. The pandemic has really changed the way we think about our work, and it just continues to get better and better,” says Carter.

“Leslie and I are continuing to talk about the possibilities as we build a more intentional partnership. I’m looking to marry what UW does best in terms of knowledge creation with what the Chamber does best, which is bring people together in the name of Black entrepreneurship.”

For Petty, the partnership represents a prime example of the Wisconsin Idea in action.

“The relationship with MBCC is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the business community, particularly the Black business community,” says Petty. “The Wisconsin Idea calls us to extend the resources of this university beyond the boundaries of campus, and this partnership allows us to do just that. I am excited to see how we might evolve together from here.”