Sherman Phoenix to hold grand opening Nov. 30

WWBIC contributes $750K in services to neighborhood


The Sherman Phoenix, the entrepreneurial and wellness hub in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, has set Nov. 30 as its grand opening date.

The former BMO Harris Bank branch that will hold the Sherman Phoenix.

The group driving the $3.5 million project is within $100,000 or $200,000 of its fundraising goal, and will open regardless of whether it reaches its final number—a moving target that has increased as more tenants have been brought on board, said Juli Kaufmann, president of Fix Development.

“We’re very, very close is our best guess,” Kaufmann said. “But I can’t say for certain where we are and we’re definitely not quite done.”

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Kaufmann provided an update on the project on the heels of a new contribution to the fundraising effort.

The Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. has received a $750,000 federal grant, part of which will go to supporting the Sherman Phoenix project with business and financial educational programming and one-on-one technical assistance for its entrepreneurs.

WWBIC announced it has been granted $750,000 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Community Services through its Community Economic Development Program, which will be targeted at community economic development in the Sherman Park neighborhood where Sherman Phoenix is located.

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Kaufmann said she’s not quite sure yet how much of the grant will go directly to the Sherman Phoenix, which is now set to have 29 tenants.

“What WWBIC does throughout the State of Wisconsin is amazing and they have incredible expertise around entrepreneurial support and we’ve always wanted to collaborate with them in general,” she said.

WWBIC is a nonprofit community development financial institution dedicated to improving the economic wellbeing of women, minority, lower-wealth and veteran individuals by providing microloans for small businesses and offering business training. The Sherman Phoenix is expected to create 49 full-time jobs, 37 of which will go to low-income individuals, in an area designated as a Historically Underutilized Business Zone by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Sherman Phoenix, located in a 20,000-square-foot former BMO Harris Bank branch at 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave. that was damaged by fire during civil unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood in 2016, was originally designed to include 10 small businesses. But organizers saw greater demand from the entrepreneurial community than expected, Kaufmann said. Its 29 tenants include mainly black-owned food, culture and health and wellness businesses.

“We as best we could adapted to that demand because we wanted to support as many entrepreneurs as possible,” she said. “If we can add those additional tenants, we’re going to try to.”

There will be some soft openings at the Sherman Phoenix ahead of the Nov. 30 grand opening event, Kaufmann said.

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