We sat down with Augustus (Gus) Harris of Flex and Burn Fitness & Brett Bjorn of Mike Bjorn’s Clothing, two downtown Kenosha business owners and board members of The Kenosha Lakeshore Improvment District (B.I.D) to find out what’s going on in downtown Kenosha.
The Kenosha Lakeshore BID was created by the City of Kenosha in 1986 to allow businesses to develop, manage and promote Downtown Kenosha and to establish an assessment method to fund permitted activities. The BID Board meets each month, on the third Tuesday at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Downtown Kenosha at 8:30am. Meetings are open to the public.
What do you love about being a business owner in Downtown Kenosha?
GUS: Running and owning a business downtown is an integral part of giving back and supporting growth and development in Kenosha. I’m able to offer services to a vast array of individuals who are, and have been life long resident. Owning a business requires immense sacrifices and perseverance. I have total respect and admiration for anyone pursuing such venture particularly under extenuating circumstances. It requires passion that’s selfless for the most part.
BRETT: I love the downtown vibe. It’s a completely different feel from anywhere else in the city. Downtown businesses seem to work together more. We’re also very lucky to be located on a beautiful lake
Why did you chose Downtown Kenosha for your business?
GUS: I observed lots of businesses were preferring other locations in Kenosha. I wanted to operate and succeed downtown to show that it could be done. If we as Kenoshans don’t push to improve downtown, why should we expect others to do it for us?
BRETT: My dad was the one that made that decision decades ago and I’m so happy he did.
Why did you decide to join the BID board?
GUS: I have unique experiences, knowledge, education and background I bring to BID. As Naturalized citizen, I have a different perspective and appreciate for the opportunities afforded me. Hence it’s a natural progression for me to give back. also, I’m a pretty cool dude and work very well with people from all backgrounds..Lol I’m excited to help in anyway to make Kenosha better city. I believe in taking positive initiatives to do for ourselves as a community. I cherish the opportunity to serve.
BRETT: I decided to join BID to help try and make a difference in our downtown business community. I really feel bid is doing a lot of positives and we have a lot of improvements on the way (lighting, decorations, banners etc)
Where do you see Downtown Kenosha in 5 years?
GUS: I’m optimistic about Downtown, I see continuous improvements, bridging gaps between business and consumers, building better business relationships, driving growth and Kenosha downtown being a destination point for both local and non local population.
BRETT: I think its absolutely going in the right direction. Population density is important and I see some great projects happening to keep improving that. I’m excited to see more developments happen near the harbor as I think it’s a very important location and is under developed. I also think we’ve become a trendy area for out of town weddings which is great for the area
What are some of the long & short term goals you would like to see get done during your term on the BID board?
GUS: Obviously, I’d like to see continuous improvements, learning and growing from past mistakes, Offer incentives, and support to existing and perspective businesses downtown. Improve business relationships, communication, recognition, rewards, networking, encouraging and mentoring small businesses. Also help make Downtown a safe and family destination point for all.
BRETT: I’m a strong believer in great lighting improving the esthetics of the downtown and making it an even more welcoming environment during holidays and even year round. I also want to see more holiday decorations as I feel the public will appreciate it
What is your favorite Downtown event?
GUS: I like them all. Otherwise, the car show and restaurant week stands out for me.
BRETT: I would have to say the labor day weekend car show. It’s just such a fun atmosphere with so many wonderful people attend every year.
Support local by visiting these fine businesses:
Flex & Burn Fitness – 5711 6th Avenue
Bjorn’s Fine Clothing is located at 5614 6th Avenue Kenosha, WI 53140
Q&A by Donny Stancato
Bret Bjorn photo by Donny Stancato
Gus Harris photo from flexandburn.com
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For everything Kenosha see visitkenosha.com
(This article first appeared in Vol 16. #2 2023 Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine)