Resilience Smart Cities

Wisconsin rolls out interest-free loans to businesses recovering from riots

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People walk past a building that was reduced to rubble after being burned during recent rioting following the shooting of Jacob Blake on August 28, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake remains in the hospital after being shot seven times in the back in front of his three children by a police officer. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers launched an initiative to help businesses recover from riot damages.
  • President Trump is set to tour Kenosha on Tuesday.

In the wake of the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Wisconsin is offering no-interest loans to businesses that were affected by the Kenosha riots.

Kenosha News reports that Gov. Tony Evers (D) confirmed that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is authorizing $1 million in available funding for loans of up to $20,000 for local businesses that were harmed or damaged during protests in recent weeks. 

The loan program aims to help with cleanup, repairs and other restoration services at no cost to small business owners. 

“When I was in Kenosha I saw a lot of pain and anguish, but I also saw a lot of people being resilient and trying to rebuild,” Evers told reporters.

After Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, multiple times as he entered his car on Aug. 23, civil rights protests erupted in the Wisconsin town that resulted in cars being torched and buildings being burned. 

After the protests were declared riots, the Wisconsin National Guard was deployed to the scene and a curfew was imposed on the town. Multiple people were arrested for curfew violations, and three people were shot by a gunman from Illinois. Two of the victims died. 

While the $20,000 loan cap won’t cover all damage for each business, it is designed as a start to get money to business owners quickly.

“We’re also looking at [the] bigger picture what we can do going forward, as far as providing resources and assistance for Kenosha,” Evers explained.

President Trump is set to touchdown in Kenosha on Tuesday to tour the city. Leading up to his visit, he said that the presence of the National Guard helped quell any further violence and destruction.

“One of the reasons I am making the trip today in going to Wisconsin is we have had such a big success in shutting down what would be right now … a city that would have been burned to the ground right now,” Trump said to reporters at Joint Base Andrews.

On Sunday, Evers’s office released a letter addressed to the White House that urged Trump not to visit the city, citing concerns that his presence may not help Kenosha recover.

“I, along with other community leaders who have reached out, are concerned about what your presence will mean for Kenosha and our state. I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing. I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together,” the letter read.

“It is our job as elected officials to lead by example and to be a calming presence for the people we know are hurting, mourning, and trying to cope with trauma,” Evers continued. “Now is not the time for divisiveness.”

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