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BMO supports minority-owned businesses at Milwaukee’s Summerfest with new BMO EMpower grant

September 2, 2021 |

Along with great music and festivities, BMO Harris Bank is shining the light on diverse businesses at this year’s annual Summerfest music festival. Through BMO’s EMpower program, the bank is providing resources for 11 minority-owned businesses to become vendors at this year’s nine-day festival over 3 weeks from September 2 through September 18.

Each business will receive a grant of up to $3,500 to help cover the costs of being a vendor at Summerfest’s Marketplace, materials, booth set-up and/or staffing. In addition to the grant, BMO is also offering vendors access to networking opportunities with banking executives, educational events for small business owners, and access to a banker who will provide one-on-one support on financial resources information.

Launched in 2020, BMO EMpower is our $5 billion commitment over five years to address key barriers faced by minority businesses, communities and families in the United States. Through lending, investing, giving and engagement in our local communities, the program is tackling barriers to inclusion in the financial services industry to create more opportunity for recovery and success.

Danielle Lilo Allen of Papyrus & Charms, a jewelry, apparel, accessories, and bath products company, will be a vendor at Summerfest and spoke about how this grant will help expand her business as a black entrepreneur, “The BMO EMpower Grant presents an amazing opportunity for Papyrus & Charms to experience vending at Summerfest without the risk of substantial financial loss,” said Allen. “More often than not, small, black-owned business owners don’t have the capital to take on the risk of a venture as large as Summerfest – but this grant creates equity and allows myself and others to experience vending at a professional-level many of us have never been privy to.”

Other featured vendors will offer products such as home décor, apparel, handbags, wellness products, custom art accessories and products, African prints, and pet accessories.

“We see this as not only a great business opportunity, but an even more important community effort,” said Raquel Filmanowicz, Director of Economic Equity Advisory Group at BMO. “These Milwaukee businesses are navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the economic crisis of generations of systemic racism and social injustice. Our partnership with these incredible companies will give them a start as Summerfest vendors and hopefully help catapult them forward into bigger and better things, including improved economic equity in our community.”

Aligned with BMO’s Purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life, the BMO EMpower Grant Program for Summerfest is helping to advance a more inclusive and equitable economic recovery in Milwaukee.

Find out more information about the Summerfest EMpower Grant Recipients on the Summerfest website.

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