Sherman Phoenix grand reopening aims to help community rise up from challenges of COVID-19 pandemic

NOW: Sherman Phoenix grand reopening aims to help community rise up from challenges of COVID-19 pandemic

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Sherman Phoenix held a grand reopening event to mark the first time the center has been fully reopen since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For business owners and entrepreneurs who work out of the facility, the day was filled with overwhelming excitement.

"The fire is no longer around us, it's in us," Latrece Hendrickson told CBS 58. "And now it's time to grow to the next level."

Hendrickson and her husband Andre are owners of Salon Lavish, one of the businesses inside of Sherman Phoenix. They both hope the grand reopening marks the start of a new revitalization for the community after Covid.

"I am so happy for the Sherman Phoenix to be open again, that it will help these businesses in here grow and not fall apart and the economy in our neighborhood can strive again," Andre Hendrickson said.

The event featured music, food and tours. The effort is about reintroducing the Phoenix to the community and welcoming back customers.

"We're just asking the community to come back out here and enjoy this space with us and embrace the community overall," Chandra Cooper, the CEO of Grateful Girls, Inc. said.

"Having this back open, it's just a place where people feel joy, it's happiness here, it's love," Hands at Home Director Clarindria Addison said.

Sherman Phoenix was established in 2018 in an old BMO Harris Bank branch that was damaged during unrest sparked by the shooting death of Sylville Smith by police in 2016.

"It's so important to come into a space that is operated by the community, for the community and placed intentionally in the community," Cabeatrice Hart told CBS 58. Hart is a cooperative member of Kujichagulia Cooperative.

Governor Tony Evers made a stop to tour the facility and speak with business owners. He also bought lunch at a pizza shop there. Evers applauded the efforts of the Phoenix.

"[The] crowd in there is great, lots of people buying, lots of money being made by people," Evers told reporters at a news conference.  "And the work of the leadership here is just outstanding."

Sherman Phoenix also announced the launch of the Sherman Phoenix Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the organization focused on the economic equity and empowerment of people of color in the community. American Family Insurance pledged $300,000 to the foundation. Business owners at Sherman Phoenix believe it is a sign of resilience they are still standing, even after all the health and economic effects of the pandemic.

"If we overcame Covid, baby, you can't stop us," Latrece Hendrickson said. "What else are you going to throw at us? What else is going to stop us?"

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