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City awards emergency funds to 18 Racine businesses, potentially preserving 59 jobs
COVID-19 Aid

City awards emergency funds to 18 Racine businesses, potentially preserving 59 jobs


RACINE — The City of Racine has awarded forgivable loans to 18 small businesses to help them sustain 59 jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Racine Small Business Emergency Fund was announced on March 23, the day that Gov. Tony Evers issued a “Stay at Home” order for all non-essential businesses. It was the first COVID-19 small business fund established in Wisconsin, according to Racine Mayor Cory Mason.

“Racine is fortunate to be home to a number of major corporations more capable of weathering the coronavirus, but as many as three-quarters of companies in our community are small businesses,” said Mason stated in a press release. “Often, small businesses operate on very slim margins, and may have less than 30 days of cash on hand to continue.”

The fund re-allocated $250,000 in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that was initially allocated for the city’s micro-loan program. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees, earning low to moderate incomes and affected by the coronavirus could apply for $1,000 to $15,000 in loans. The six-month loans could be forgiven if the business proved the funds were spend as stated in the application, such as to cover overhead and maintain payroll.

“We all recognize that small businesses cannot carry additional debt in these times of extraordinary uncertainty,” said Mason. “The Racine Small Business Emergency Fund is designed to provide a helping hand without saddling those who do the right thing with the weight of more debt.”

Who was selected

The loan recipients include:

  • RG Natural Babies, 430 Main St.
  • Northern Lights Gallery, 423 Main St.
  • Olde Madrid, 418 Sixth St.
  • Pepi’s Pub & Grill, 618 Sixth St.
  • Varitay Studios, 410 Main St.
  • Chit Chaat, 550 State St.
  • Lush Life, LLC (Roberta), 322 Sixth St.
  • Blue Bear Bakery & Catering, 2920 Taylor Ave./622 Three Mile Road.
  • Yogi’s Pud’n, 1505 Washington Ave.
  • George’s Tavern, 1201 Main St.
  • Divino Gelato, 245 Main St.
  • Sticky Rice, 203 Sixth St.
  • Fairwinds Canvas, 1322 State St.
  • Kiernan & Laitinen Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc., 1500 Durand Ave.
  • McAuliffe’s Pub, 3700 Meachem Road.
  • Mario’s Italian Sports Bar, 2322 Lathrop Ave.
  • Beacon Tavern & Grill, 3113 Douglas Ave.
  • Innovative Dynamic Network, 610 Sixth St.

Mason stated that some of the criteria for this first round was to focus on businesses along key commercial corridors, including Downtown, Uptown and Douglas Avenue, as well as businesses owned by veterans, women and minorities. The city stated that 60% of the businesses awarded loans are woman- or minority-owned.

However, the city found during the process that the need was much greater. During the five-day application period, the city received 139 applications requesting $1.5 million. 

“To us that says this is really good first step but we know it’s just the first step,” said Mason.

Mason said city staff plans to reach out to the small business community to help them connect with other resources that are available regionally, as well as at the state and federal level.


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Christina Lieffring covers the City of Racine and the City of Burlington and is a not-bad photographer. In her spare time she tries to keep her plants and guinea pigs alive and happy.

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