WEDC adds $3 million to microloan program for damaged businesses in Kenosha

Community members and volunteers help business owners cleanup broken storefronts. Courtesy of Downtown Kenosha Inc.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is adding $3 million to a microloan program designed to help Kenosha businesses recover from damage caused by rioting during violent protests in late August.

Earlier this month, Governor Tony Evers announced that small businesses in Kenosha would be eligible for a $1 million microloan program. Evers and the WEDC have since made a total of $4 million available for the Disaster Relief Microloan program.

“We know Kenoshans are working to reconstruct and repair in the wake of devastation, and we want to do everything we can to support the Kenosha comeback,” Evers said in statement. “I have seen firsthand the resilience of this community, and we are going to do everything we can to be there as they work to rebuild and move forward together.”

The additional funds increase the maximum loan available to each business from $20,000 to $50,000, Evers and the WEDC recently announced. These zero-interest loans will be administered through the Kenosha Area Business Alliance.

“The DRM program is designed to help businesses impacted by unforeseen disasters. After visiting Kenosha, it was clear to us that additional steps are needed to help the community recover,” WEDC chief executive officer Missy Hughes said in a statement.

Small businesses in Kenosha can use DRM funding for cleanup and restoration services, operating expenses, temporary space, payroll and repair and construction work. The loans have a two-year repayment period, with the first payment deferred for at least six months.

Businesses that suffered measurable physical damage because of the violent unrest and intend to resume operations in the community as quickly as possible are eligible and encouraged to apply for the program.

As many as 30 businesses were damaged across the city during protests that turned violent after the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. Kenosha Chamber of Commerce president Lou Molitor said more than a dozen of his members sustained damage during the protests, including Salon Technique, Car Source, Metro By T Mobile, Uptown Restaurant, Uptown Beauty, The Good Taste Ice Cream Shoppe, B & L Office Furniture, Rode’s Camera Shop and a Jackson Hewitt Tax Service location.

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