Northwestern Mutual investing $5 million to boost Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee

Downtown Milwaukee, with Milwaukee Art Museum in foreground and US Bank Center and Northwestern Mutual tower in background
Downtown Milwaukee, with Milwaukee Art Museum in foreground and U.S. Bank Center and Northwestern Mutual tower in the background.

Last updated on May 6th, 2022 at 02:02 pm

Northwestern Mutual is investing a total of $5 million in Legacy Redevelopment Corp. and Northwest Side Community Development Corp., two Milwaukee-based community development financial institutions.

The investment is intended to help increase access to capital for Black and African American businesses in the city.

“Black and African American business owners, for a variety of reasons, have had limited access to traditional financial markets, and this latest investment will deepen our mission to make a bold and long-term impact that drives access and equity,” said Ray Manista, executive vice president and chief legal and compliance officer at Northwestern Mutual.

CDFIs typically provide a mix of financing, technical assistance and credit structures that reduce risk and help a business move closer to working with a traditional bank. Legacy Redevelopment Corp. focuses on housing and commercial real estate in Milwaukee and provides strategic financial solutions for small businesses and nonprofits. Northwest Side Community Development Corp. works with businesses to create stronger neighborhoods, economic growth and urban environmental improvements.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Northwestern Mutual and provide much-needed loans to local, Black and African American-owned businesses,” said Terese Caro, president of Legacy Redevelopment Corp. “This partnership will change the trajectory of Legacy Redevelopment Corp. and Northwest Side Community Development Corp. in terms of what we’ll be able to do and the communities we’ll be able to impact.”

The investment is a result of Northwestern Mutual’s Sustain Action for Racial Equity task force, which launched in 2020. Last year, the task force launched a $100 million impact fund to direct investments in Black communities nationwide. The fund’s priorities include building physical and social infrastructure, increasing access to capital and creating healthy, sustainable neighborhoods and communities.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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