To help businesses that were damaged during recent protests in Milwaukee over the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce is launching a grant program to help those businesses with repairs and to replace inventory.
The initial funding for the program, called the Rebuild and Revitalize Program, stems from a $500,000 commitment from Milwaukee's T&M Partners and the Kelben Foundation.
“The peaceful demonstrators called out to many citizens as they passed by, ‘walk with us.’ We hear them,'” said MMAC chair Jonas Prising, who is chairman and CEO of ManpowerGroup. “We also want to help rebuild the businesses that were damaged and help improve the prospects for African American business prosperity. Thank you to T&M Partners and the Kelben Foundation for taking the lead on this important initiative. We hope this helps seed other contributions.”
MMAC is partnering with the city of Milwaukee to address the needs of the impacted businesses and will work with Milwaukee’s Department of City Development to help vet and administer the grants.
“These recent protests have been almost uniformly peaceful, and have had a galvanizing impact on our community to unite us to create change,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement. “To address instances where businesses were damaged, we are very pleased to have MMAC and the business community help get these businesses back on their feet. This is a coordinated effort with City resources, to align these efforts and maximize the impact.”
Some of the businesses damaged were near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the Harambee and Sherman Park neighborhoods.
“Whether it’s assistance to repair damage, increased access to funding or drawing in a broader base of customers, Milwaukee’s minority-owned businesses will thrive when they’re supported by our entire community. This is a positive sign that we’re seeing that support," said Nicole Robbins, executive director of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp.