'Black spending power:' Milwaukee duo creates app aimed at 'promoting black culture businesses'

MILWAUKEE -- It's a search tool that will have you exploring Milwaukee in a whole new way.

Rick Banks

There are many landmarks and businesses on the streets of Milwaukee, but thanks to Rick Banks and Paul Wellington, the lesser-known establishments are at your fingertips.

"We thought, 'Let's go with the 21st century. Let's do a mobile app,'" Banks said.

The two created "MKE Black."

MKE Black

Paul Wellington

"MKE Black, overall, is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting black culture businesses and events in the city of Milwaukee," said Banks.

Wellington is the man behind the mechanics.

"I used the app platform called BuildFire, which lets you create your own app from scratch," Wellington said.

America's Black Holocaust Museum

The free app is currently available for Android smartphones and will soon be rolled out on Apple devices, Banks and Wellington said Sunday, Feb. 9. With the launch happening in the midst of Black History Month, the men's venture has people thinking about the future.

"This is the idea of black spending power and how fast the black dollar leaves the community," said Banks. "If you want to really be successful and have successful business, we have to increase how we rotate our dollar in the community."

MKE Black

MKE Black

Their goal is to help create stronger neighborhoods with a comprehensive resource.

"You can see different categories for food and drink, shopping, different attractions, hair and beauty, and wellness services," Wellington said. "If you go to the side menu here, there's also listings for events, job fairs, neighborhood history, event spaces, as well as more info about the app itself. For now, there are over 200 different black businesses and resources on the app."

MKE Black

That number continues to grow daily as a community is highlighted.

"I am actually very overjoyed and relieved that this has come to fruition," said Wellington. "I think it's really positive, overall."

To celebrate the launch of the app, the founders planned a party at Skybox Sports Bar for Monday night, Feb. 10, inviting the community to attend and learn more about the app -- with food, prizes, and more.