Organizations, companies spring into action to help Kenosha amid unrest

Since Sunday, several institutions and companies in the Kenosha area have been offering support to small businesses and residents impacted by the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

There have been protests and demonstrations in Kenosha, other parts of Wisconsin, and across the U.S. since the shooting.

Within the first 24 hours of civil unrest in Kenosha, Downtown Kenosha Inc., the nonprofit that manages economic development efforts and business support for the Kenosha Lakeshore business improvement district, sourced $20,000 worth of plywood to help board up damaged local business, but to also shield other stores from potential damages, said Jennifer Dooley-Hogan, board president of DKI and principal of Kenosha-based marketing firm Dooley & Associates.

Since the shooting took place Sunday, Downtown Kenosha Inc., or DKI,  has become a hub for volunteers and corporations looking to help small businesses damaged during the protests, she said. More than 200 volunteers have joined DKI in boarding up local businesses the past several days. Those volunteers also purchased flame retardants to apply to the plywood.

“Our entire downtown is now plywooded,” Dooley-Hogan said. “We do believe that every effort of every volunteer that has come down here to put up plywood has made a huge difference in our downtown and our community. It has saved us from further damage.”

Dooley-Hogan said DKI is partnering with other organizations to launch a match fundraising campaign of $1 million to support small businesses in Kenosha that have been damaged or will be closed for some time due to being boarded up. Kenosha-based Jockey International and Pleasant Prarie-based packaging and shipping company Uline Inc. are among the corporations committed to donating funds, she said, adding it will take months to rebuild some businesses.

Individuals are donating cash and checks on site at DKI’s pop-up base outside the Kenosha Orpheum Theater, and people across the country are contacting the nonprofit offering to help, Dooley-Hogan said.

So far, the nonprofit has raised $75,000 in donations to help with the immediate rebuild of damaged storefronts.

“The outpouring of support and love is the true story of what’s happening in Kenosha,” she said. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but I believe that we are such a strong community.”

Read more in the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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