Open for business

Wausau lands the first satellite branch of the statewide Hmong Chamber of Commerce

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Mang Xiong, the new director of the first satellite branch of the Hmong Chamber of Commerce, open in the Hmong American Center on Sixth Street.

The new Wausau branch of the statewide Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce opened May 15, but businesses have already been getting help from the statewide organization.

The Wausau office, the first satellite branch of the Milwaukee-based organization, will act more as an economic development hub than a members group, says Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Executive May Yer Thao. The Chamber provides startup tools such as primary business loans and gap financing for Hmong and Southeast Asian owned businesses, as well as help with on-going things such as tweaking business plans and financial projections.

Wausau was chosen because it has the second-highest Hmong population in the state, Thao says. Future offices are planned elsewhere in Wisconsin, such as the Fox Valley area.

Wausau area businesses are already getting help from the organization, Thao says. Ten have received financial assistance through the chamber’s revolving loan fund, and at least 20 have taken advantage of the organization’s technical help, Thao says. The Wausau World Market and Newch’s Bahn Mi Vietnamese sandwich shop are examples of businesses the chamber has already worked with, Thao says.

With a growing demand for regional business assistance, it made sense to have a Wausau office, Thao says. The chamber hired Mang Xiong as the Regional Technical Assistance Coordinator and has worked on forging partnerships with other agencies such as the Marathon County Economic Development Corp. (MCDEVCO) and Wausau’s entrepreneurial center. 

Note: This article has been updated to reflect Xiong’s full title.