‘Reduce the inequalities:’ Businesses sign pledge, seek role in solution amid vandalism, looting setbacks

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MILWAUKEE -- The vandalism and looting experiences by businesses in and around Milwaukee could not have come at a worse time. On the heels of COVID-19, it's yet another setback.

However, the business community still wants to be a part of the solution.

Solly's Grille

"We're a small business trying to help the neighborhood," said Glenn Fieber, owner of Solly's Grille.

Solly's in Glendale will soon reopen to diners. Its owner installed plexiglass shields between bar stools, but there is one new expense Fieber did not expect -- the cost to replace a window, damaged overnight Tuesday.

"So they threw a brick through the front window," Fieber said. "We would just like it if they would leave the small businesses alone."

Replacing the window will cost about $10,000, says Fieber, which he hopes will be covered by insurance. Still, it's another hurdle for a place with business down more than 60% due to COVID-19.

Boost Mobile

"We're finally done with all that, we're ready to open up on Thursday and we end up with a rock through the window," said Fieber.

On Milwaukee's south side, a Boost Movile on Historic Mitchell Street is cleaning up after a window was smashed overnight and looters broke in.

"Taking a step forward doesn't require tearing down businesses in neighborhoods that desperately need help," Tim Sheehy of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) said.

Tim Sheehy

Sheehy says the vandalism is a double-whammy for some businesses who already spent months with doors closed. Despite the acts of a few, he says demonstrators and businesses are allies.

"That challenge is to make sure that we reduce the inequalities in this community," said Sheehy.

Sheehy point to a pledge signed by more than 100 Metro Milwaukee businesses. It says that by 2025, their workforces will have at least 15% Hispanic and African-American workers. In their management, it will be 25%.

CLICK HERE to read -- or fill out -- the MMAC Region of Choice Corporate Pledge

In an online forum on Tuesday, June 2, business leaders offered more ideas on how to support black entrepreneurship and the longevity of black businesses.

Glenn Fieber

The group hopes productive conversations, and peaceful protest, won't be detailed by the actions of some.

"America allows you to protest," Fieber said.

Fieber says up to 75% of his employees are minorities. Businesses that signed the pledge employ more than 140,000 people. To see who signed, CLICK HERE.

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