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Messages of hope, action painted on the wooden boards of Uptown businesses in Kenosha. Photo by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

KENOSHA ⏤ Downtown Kenosha Inc. announced Friday that it has put together a finance committee to help allocate funds to damaged Kenosha businesses.

Following the aftermath of riots that destroyed businesses in the Downtown and Uptown areas of Kenosha Aug. 23 and 24, DKI started a fundraising campaign in order to assist business owners with cleaning up and rebuilding.

To date, DKI has raised more than $250,000 to aid local businesses. Funds will be disbursed through an online application process on DKI’s website, which the organization will unveil next week.

“We know that this grant fund differs from other funding initiatives DKI has traditionally
deployed,” said DKI Executive Director Alex Binanti. “Business Improvement District boundaries do not affect this grant’s process or merit in any way. Our focus is specifically directed to those businesses that suffered physical damages and loss from Kenosha riots.

“This is one step in helping people who have lost their very livelihood. More than repairing buildings, we’re helping families who have committed to building their lives in Kenosha’s small business community. We owe all our Kenosha business families a chance to rebuild stronger.”

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Majority of damage sustained in Uptown

DKI originally intended to distribute half of the funds to Uptown and half to Downtown. However, DKI now plans to give more funding to Uptown entities.

“While Downtown technically had more numbers of businesses damaged, the scope of loss and damages are greater in Uptown,” Binanti said in an email interview Friday. “Our goal is to deliver funds to the most needed businesses. That will naturally drive a higher percentage to Uptown.”

Alex Binanti, DKI executive director

The process

The grant committee will begin meeting next week to finalize program guidelines and application standards. The grant program will focus on covering immediate needs from gaps in insurance coverage, short-term rental assistance to clean up costs associated with damages.

The committee’s goal is to announce the application period the week of Oct. 5, which will remain open
for approximately one week.

DKI will award funds following a two-week review after the close of the application period.

All guidelines with applicable use of funds and the scoring matrix will be posted to the public and
the application will be available at www.downtownkenosha.org by Oct. 5.

The finance committee

In the meantime, residents can get to know the finance committee members.

According to DKI, the group features diverse small business owners in both Uptown and Downtown Kenosha.

The committee members are:

  • AJillian Day Burrell, Textures Rx Beauty & Barber
  • Derek Petersen, Johnson Financial Group
  • Erin Ginn, Herzing University
  • Gary Hutchins, State Bank of the Lakes
  • Gina Sorenson, US Bank
  • Gustavo Lopez, Kenosha Auto Insurance
  • Heather Wessling, Kenosha Area Business Alliance
  • Joshua Ferguson, Sugar Boxx Play Space
  • Monica Karnes, LaMacchia Travel Agency
  • Nate Leonardelli, Leonardelli Insurance & Financial Services
  • Ranesha Johnson Langston, 2U4U Beauty Hair Supply
  • Thomas O’Connell Jr, Partner in Design Architects

Administration staff performing grant procedures include Binanti and Matt Monroe, DKI treasurer.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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Daniel Thompson is an independent journalist and the founder of The Uptown Observer based in the Kenosha, Wis., area. He started in journalism at the Western Nebraska Observer in 2012 and, most notably,...