Wisconsin’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program
In search of the elusive five percent goal
     “I’m very encouraged that we are going to hit that mark in the next fiscal year,” Broadnax said.
Encouragingly, the state is getting closer that goal. In fiscal year 2007, Wisconsin state government spent over $62 million with minority business enterprises
(MBEs), representing 4.02 percent of overall state spending. This was the second highest amount spent with minority businesses since the MBE program’s
inception. Broadnax is marching on in an effort to top this number. He has some specific goals set for his office in an effort to reach that five percent mark.  
“During the next fiscal year, my primary focus will be to increase the accessibility of my office,” Broadnax asserted. “I want the program to feel inclusive to all
minority groups.”
    Broadnax hopes to introduce more minority businesses, whatever the racial or ethnic background of their owners, to the certification process and get more
onboard in the program. Currently, there are 1255 certified MBE firms. He will work, he said, to diversify the pool of MBEs that the state has to work with.
“I really want to increase the number of MBE certified businesses and diversify,” he said. “We need to fill in those gaps where we don’t have [MBE]
representation.”
    As manager of the Wisconsin’s MBE program, Broadnax essentially functions as the bridge between MBE firms and state spenders. Yet, he also hopes to
create a bridge between non-minority vendors and minority vendors.
    “We want to encourage long-term joint ventures between our minority vendors and non-minority vendors,” Broadnax stressed.
Broadnax is adamant that he supports the MBE program not because it is the “right thing to do,” but because it is crucial to Wisconsin’s economic vitality.
“Growing minority businesses is the cornerstone to a healthy and competitive economy,” he said. “It is not the ‘right thing to do,’ it is economically necessary in
this global economy.”
    A bleeding heart Broadnax is not; a practical leader he is. He doesn’t believe in handouts, but a level playing field where competitors are allowed to
prosper and thus, where an economy can thrive. Minority businesses are a crucial piece to this puzzle. And Broadnax is working hard to bring them further into
the fray.
    “I have never worked so hard and, not to brag or anything, I’m a very hard worker,” he said with a chuckle.
Broadnax grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wis. where his family was one of the first black households to dare infiltrate the predominately White community. Broadnax’
s father, an attorney, and his mother, a doting stay-at-home mom, moved their children from the highly segregated inner-city of Milwaukee in the hopes of
providing them with a better education. Broadnax said it was difficult to be the minority in a sea of White faces, but his young mind couldn’t quite grasp why.
Later, he would come to realize that the experience gave him a valuable tool.
    “I think it has given me the ability to get a long with a lot of different kind of people,” he said.
    Broadnax went on to obtain a tennis and academic scholarship to Northern Illinois University where he received an undergraduate degree in history and
sociology. He then received a degree in law from UW-Madison. From there Broadnax has held a variety of positions that highlight is versatile personality. He
worked as private lawyer at his father’s firm, as an attorney for the Community Housing Preservation Corporation, and as a contract specialist for the Bureau of
Milwaukee Child Welfare. Today, he hopes to use his training and people skills to add to the improvements made by his MBE program predecessors and make
a few of his own improvements.
    “The right person in this position could make a lot of positive changes for the minority community,” he said.
By Laura Salinger

    Racial and ethnic minorities are the fasting growing populations in the U.S. and they have quickly become crucial players
in the economic health of the nation. On a state level, minority entrepreneurs have likewise become a driving force in
Wisconsin’s economy.
    In 2005, government figures revealed that Black-owned business in Wisconsin rose 38 percent from 1997, Asian-owned
businesses grew 32 percent, and Hispanic-owned businesses grew 24 percent. Yet, challenges still persist for minority-owned
businesses and no one knows this better than Keith Broadnax.
    Broadnax heads up Wisconsin’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program where his primary focus is to increase
opportunities for certified minority-owned companies to sell their products or services to the State of Wisconsin and its
agencies. Broadnax took over the post in January of this year and, although fairly new to the position, he does not lack the
drive to get things done. In fact, he hopes to be the first ever to reach that ever-elusive five percent procurement goal
designated by a 1983 Wisconsin statute. The statute states that the government “shall attempt” to spend five percent of its
purchasing dollars with minority businesses. In over two decades, Wisconsin has yet to meet that mark. Broadnax, however, is
not discouraged.
Keith Broadnax