- Category: Notable Minority Executives
- Number of years working in your current industry: 20
- Undergrad degree/university: Bachelor of Science, Cardinal Stritch University
Willie Smith, executive director of the Northwest Side Community Development Corp. (NWSCDC), has led the resurgence of business interest in Milwaukee’s northwest side.
As executive director of NWSCDC since 2020, and previously as director of lending for the organization, Smith has increased small business loans for community residents and businesses located on the northwest side.
Last year, NWSCDC’s eight small business loan total was a 300% increase over the organization’s three-year average. Five of the eight small business loans went to African American entrepreneurs, supporting a wide variety of industries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith led NWSCDC to pivot and adapt its methods of engaging with neighbors and business partners. For instance, the organization hosted a series of three North Side Pop-up Farmers Markets, anchored by one of its business lending clients, Signature Sweets.
Smith also led the NWSCDC community organizing team to distribute thousands of free masks and assisted with hundreds of food box deliveries for shut-in seniors.
Smith also serves on numerous local boards, including the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corp. and Bridge Builders. He was also recently appointed to Milwaukee’s City Plan Commission.