WEDC to offer $1 million in microloans to Kenosha businesses impacted by violent protests

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

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will allocate $1 million to Kenosha businesses damaged during violent protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced today.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian is requesting $30 million in state aid to rebuild Kenosha’s Uptown and Downtown business districts. Antaramian’s proposal calls for additional funds to cover the cost incurred by the city during last week’s civil unrest as well as initiatives that encourage new businesses to invest in the area.

The WEDC’s Disaster Recovery Microloan Program will provide business owners with zero interest loans of up to $20,000.

“These funds will provide immediate aid to the businesses that suffered losses over the past week and serve as a first step toward rebuilding and healing the divisions that have caused so much fear, pain, and devastation,” Evers said in a statement. “The people, businesses, and community of Kenosha are hurting, but they are strong and are looking to move forward united.”

Disaster Recovery Microloan Program funds can be used to cover cleanup and restoration services, operating expenses, temporary space, payroll, and repair and reconstruction work.

The loans will be administered through the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, which is where business owners can apply. 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, according to a press release.

Some news reports indicated that as many as 30 businesses were damaged across the city during protests that turned violent. Kenosha Chamber of Commerce president Lou Molitor said more than a dozen of his members sustained damage early last week, 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.

The city is working with business owners to assess the total cost of property damaged by rioting and looting since protests broke out over the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. Kenosha’s downtown and Uptown neighborhoods sustained the most damage, with some businesses reporting more than $100,000 in losses.

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Brandon Anderegg
Brandon covers startups, technology, banking and finance. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.

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