Two new businesses receive low-interest loans from loan pool established by the city and First Bank Financial Centre

Loans for Bella Gusto and the Purple Giraffe approved by community development authority and the common council

Two more new downtown businesses have received loans from the city’s Downtown Oconomowoc Business Loan Pool, established by the city and First Bank Financial Centre. This brings the total of loans offered in 2015 to four. Since the loan program’s inception, 21 new or expanding businesses in the downtown received the low-interest loans.

Receiving one of the loans the latest loans is Bella Gusto, Italian Market & Deli, 29. S. Main Street. Stapleton Realty currently occupies the site, but it is relocating back to its original North Main Street location in a few weeks, opening up the door to Bella Gusto to move into the South Main Street facility, next to the Oil Well.

The other loan is going to The Purple Giraffe, 173 E. Wisconsin Ave. (the Avenue Square Mall).

Both loans were approved initially by the community development authority and then by the common council at their Aug. 18 meetings.

According to Bob Duffy, the city’s economic development director, Bela Gusto, owned by Renee Burns, will offer “unique specialty grocery items to the community and downtown residents. Products and services will include imported cheeses, deli meats and olive bar; fresh bakery, Colectivo coffee, imported Italian wine and beer; plus grocery items such as sauces, dry pasta and condiments; local produce; as well as fresh-made sandwiches, salads, and Italian Sausages.

The Purple Giraffe is a children’s boutique featuring one-of-a-kind children’s apparel, accessories, seasonal items and gifts for children. According to Duffy, the boutique will also offer a variety of special events, plus social gatherings and parties at the boutique.Jennifer Wucherer is the owner. Its location is right across from another business catering to children; Snips and Giggles.

Loans given to the 21 businesses are used when “full private financing or credit is not available on terms or conditions that would permit project completion. Interest rates are fixed at 1%. Each loan is evaluated separately on collateral, risk, and terms. Loans are generally not less than $10,000 or more than $25,000.

First Bank committed $300,000 of capital to begin the loan program. Actual loan decisions are made by the CDA. The CDA and common council maintain the authority to modify, change, or negotiate the terms of the provisions of the loan requirements to “best meet the objectives of the community and downtown Oconomowoc.”

Duffy says the program has been so successful, First Bank has implemented it in at least 10 other branch communities.

The program was initiated in 2010 as a tool for continuing the revitalization of the city’s downtown area and for increasing capital reinvestment and support for existing businesses.

Eligible entities include commercial, retail, or restaurant businesses that are located within downtown Oconomowoc and on Wisconsin Avenue and Main Street.

Eligible expenses include land acquisition or a building; building improvements or construction; equipment purchases; and environmental of safety compliances.

For more information, contact Duffy at City Hall. Click here to send an email or call 262 262-569-2185 Here is a link to his department’s page on the City of Oconomowoc website.


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