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Community Newsletter: Downtown Racine Corp.

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RACINE — After weathering the most challenging two years they’ve ever faced, Downtown Racine businesses are beginning to bounce back and continue to keep their vision intact for a sunny forecast for the future of downtown.

“I am amazed each and every day at the passion so many people have in making our downtown successful,” said Kelly Kruse, Downtown Racine Corp. executive director. “I see shop owners working hand in hand to create a synergetic environment where all the businesses thrive, and organizations partnering with us to make lasting and positive changes for our downtown.”

Downtown Racine Corp.’s mission is to foster economic, social and cultural vitality by stimulating business development, programming events and marketing downtown to the community, developers and tourists. DRC worked extremely hard to fulfill that mission post-pandemic.

During 2021, the DRC hosted 65 events including live music, wine and beer walks, Party on the Pavement and the Holiday Parade just to name a few. In total they brought more than 16,000 people to these events. In 2022, they are slated to host 70 events.

New in 2022

New in 2022, DRC is partnering with the Kenosha Harbor Market to bring four night markets to Monument Square on June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29. Other new partnerships include the expansion of the Lighthouse Run and an RUSD scavenger hunt.

DRC also worked diligently to be a resource for incoming investors, entrepreneurs and current businesses. They continued identifying new business prospects and developed economic tools for further private investment. Last year saw a record-breaking 35 new businesses open. Past years had the following new businesses: Ten in 2020 and 24 in 2019. In addition, the WEDC Bounceback grant awarded 28 downtown businesses with $10,000 grants. To date, over 10 businesses have opened in 2022 including BePlush, Kouzena 220, Junoesque By Bree and Goddess Nail to name a few.

“Despite the intense challenges we faced, we were able to pivot and provide major resources to the Downtown merchants,” said Kruse. “Our emphasis was always on keeping our Downtown economically stable.”

“The DRC is extremely proud of what was accomplished during 2021 and the level of economic activity that occurred despite obstacles,” stated MT Boyle, chairman of the DRC Board of Directors. “Looking forward, we are excited about the opportunities that exist and the investments, such as Hotel Verdant that are being made and are yet to come.”

A thriving downtown doesn’t happen by accident. It takes vision, partnership and persistence. It takes the commitment of people who care. The DRC truly believes that Downtown Racine is the heart of our community, and a community is only as strong as its core.

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