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Grant helps businesses develop in Sherman Park

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Inside the old BMO Harris Bank Branch on Fond du Lac, construction crews are hard at work turning a fire damaged building into a small business hub.

“It’s not saying out of nothing comes something. It’s saying bringing out pride, capacity, and ability that was always here. It’s bringing it back. It’s rebirth,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

It’s called the Sherman Phoenix. A $250,000 state grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Association will help the $1.8 million project push forward.

Co-developer Joanne Sabir says the idea started from a community conversation.

“This became a response to the dialogue. My husband and myself went door to door and talked to neighbors and that’s how we’ve grown in community development. This project is a direct reflection of those conversations,” said Sabir.

So far, 20 businesses mostly owned by people of color, will call the Phoenix home, including Joanna Brooks’ yoga studio, Embody Yoga.

“To be able to be here and to be a model for the young people in the area and offer my services to young people and adults is just part of my dream and fits with my mission,” said Brooks.

Organizers want the project to bring hope to the area.

“Often times, we don’t have spaces, outlets, mentorship, or the support that is required or how to access that support. To create a hub was a significant part of that model,” Sabir said. 

Construction on the Phoenix is expected to be complete by this fall.

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