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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. Credit: Daniel Thompson/Uptown Observer

KENOSHA ⏤ The Kenosha Area Business Alliance and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. have awarded 27 Kenosha businesses microloans up to $50,000.

Kenosha Area Business Alliance and the state Economic Development Corp. announced the microloans in a press release last week.

The Recovery Microloan Program (DRM) dispersing the funds is a loan program for local business owners who suffered damage to their buildings during the civil unrest in Kenosha.

The loans have a 5-year repayment period, a 6-month deferment and are intended to assist with repair work and other short-term operating expenses. Each loan recipient will have an opportunity to have up to 50% of their loan amount forgiven for meeting certain program criteria.

This video was taken at the scene of the Jacob Blake shooting the night of Aug. 23, 2020. Video by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

Civil unrest

Many businesses in both the Uptown and Downtown Kenosha areas were badly damaged at the end of August. While many argue how long it had been building, many see the Aug. 23 shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha Police Department Officer Rusten Sheskey as the spark that ignited the Kenosha unrest.

As a result, over a two-night period, rioters damaged windows and other elements of Downtown businesses. However, the Uptown area took the brunt of the damage, with several of its buildings and longtime businesses burning down. 

Businesses receiving funds

Due to available funding, WEDC has awarded Kenosha County $1.45 million through the DRM in its first round. 

“We are very appreciative of the support from Governor Evers and the WEDC through the Disaster Recovery Microloan Program,” said KABA President Todd Battle.  

“In the days that followed the civil unrest in Kenosha, we worked collaboratively to leverage this program to help impacted Kenosha businesses and property owners.”

As a result, these Kenosha businesses will receive a $50,000, no-interest disaster recovery loan:

  • Affordable Auto Sales of America LLC
  • Apis Hotel LLC d/b/a Apis Hotel and Restaurant
  • A.D. Associates LLC
  • Best Wireless WI Inc d/b/a Metro by T-Mobile
  • Cast LLC d/b/a Sazzy B/The Buzz
  • Cellular Express of Racine d/b/a Cellular Express (multiple locations)
  • City Kicks LLC
  • Clovis Point, LLC
  • Daniel Brown d/b/a Something Different
  • Dong Won Lee d/b/a Uptown Beauty
  • El Buen Gusto, LLC
  • Fiesta Catering, LLC d/b/a Chef David’s Catered Events
  • FS Fuels of Kenosha Inc. d/b/a Gulf
  • JKP Properties LLC
  • La Estrella Supermarket LLC d/b/a Tienda y Dulceria La Estrella
  • Lakeside Family Therapy Services
  • Lakeside Fuels of Kenosha Inc. d/b/a Gulf
  • Las Margaritas Bar & Grill, LLC
  • Luminarias Banquet Hall Inc.
  • McDonald Institute LLC d/b/a Wine Knot Bar & Bistro
  • Paul Campagna
  • Shrinkwrap Supplies LLC d/b/a zipperdoors.com
  • Solton LLC d/b/a Boost Mobile
  • The Mattress Shoppe LLC
  • Uptown Restaurant LLC
  • USTKDA d/b/a U.S. Taekwondo Academy
  • Vallabh Vitthalji LLC d/b/a Kenosha Gas Stop

“We are very thankful to WEDC for these dollars and appreciate KABA’s assistance,” said loan recipient Georgina Posada in a released statement. “We suffered significant damage this summer and insurance proceeds did not cover our losses.” 

Posada owns Luminarias Banquet Hall in the Uptown neighborhood and is working to re-open.

Volunteer committee picked recipients

In total, seventeen volunteers from the business and nonprofit sectors picked the businesses microloans are going to.

Moreover, the selection group for the microloans was made up of people from various aspects of the community. For instance, it included a number of local activists ⏤ Brian Little, Tanya McLean, Erica Ness and Diamond Hartwell ⏤ who have been involved in peaceful protests and other efforts to improve Kenosha following the period of unrest. 

The names of all of the volunteers involved are:

  • Lisa Bartko
  • Kristy Bragg
  • Mike Deney
  • James Hall
  • Diamond Hartwell
  • Renelsa Hall
  • Anthony Jefferson
  • Brian Little
  • Tanya McLean
  • Erica Ness
  • Jon Purcell
  • Melissa Thompson
  • Christian Venegas
  • Sara Verbsky
  • Kyle Vitkus
  • Andy Vogel
  • Chris Ziarko

More funds available

KABA has more than $2.5 million still available for affected businesses. Applications are also being accepted and reviewed for future awards.

Visit http://www.kaba.org/Kenosha-_Cty_DRM_2020 for more information. Applicants may contact KABA at grants@kaba.org with any questions.

WEDC’s Disaster Recovery Microloan Program was first introduced in 2018 and is also available to businesses in all 72 counties impacted by manmade or natural disasters declared by state or federal authorities. 

For detailed information on the program, visit wedc.org/disasterrecovery.

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,...