The newly installed leaders of Downtown Kenosha Inc. want to build upon previous achievements and set a path for new goals.

The excitement was palpable at last week’s State of the Downtown event, which ended with a quote from author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar: “You don’t build a business; you build people. They build the business.”

That quotation embodies what new DKI board president Jennifer Dooley-Hogan and new executive director Alexandria Binanti Robinson, plan to do this year.

“We want to capitalize on the momentum (from the State of Downtown event),” said Robinson.

“Our vision is to keep the positive happening,” added Dooley-Hogan.

They said they want to provide the necessary business support and promotional activities to create more new businesses and attractions that bring more people to the downtown.

They want to help business owners find the support they need to become successful. They also want to help prospective business owners find suitable spaces and connect with resources they need.

Downtown boasts 358 businesses, but the new leaders want to see more entrepreneurs operating a variety of new enterprises. New businesses, Dooley-Hogan said, will help bring more traffic downtown.

Several new businesses opened last year in downtown, according to DKI, including Bird of Paradox, 720 50th St.; Lakeside Dugout, 620 59th St.; Jax Boutique, 5513 Sixth Ave.; Leeward Business Advisors, 520 58th St.; Nutrition Revolution, 611 56th St.; Slip 56, 506 56th St.; Imperial Service Systems, 5913 Sixth Ave.; and To and From Gift Shop, 5535 Sixth Ave.

Downtown expansions included K9 Kibble, 5919 Sheridan Road; Total Cyclery, 5039 Sixth Ave.; Robin’s Nest Cakery, 5537 Sixth Ave.; and Dooley & Associates, 600 52nd St.

Small, family-run businesses are key to the downtown, Dooley-Hogan said.

“The downtown businesses are different,” she said. “We want to be unique and offer people an exciting Kenosha experience.”

Stronger partnerships

The two said the mission is to strengthen partnerships with the city, the county, community organizers, business owners, financial institutions, investors and other support organizations.

Robinson, who replaces Ashley Marchetti, said she wants to bring in more activities and launch more fundraising events. Prior to joining the DKI staff, she worked on the organization’s marketing, web design and volunteer campaign coordination.

A University of Wisconsin-Parkside graduate, Robinson has a background in business entrepreneurship as operating partner of an Italian restaurant and catering company. She has performed public relations duties for Wisconsin Legislature candidates and worked with various municipalities in southeastern Wisconsin.

Dooley-Hogan succeeds Heather Wessling-Grosz as president of the DKI board. Dooley-Hogan is the principal and founder of Dooley & Associates, a regional marketing firm.

Her work with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and DKI projects has helped to raise visibility of the organizations. Prior to establishing her own company, she worked as a marketing official in private industry.

The incoming executive committee officers includes Lou Molitor, vice president; Martin Lacock, treasurer; and Riki Tagliapietra, secretary.

Board members include Wessling-Grosz, Kevin Ervin, John Boldt, Matt Monroe, Rachel Hernandez, Deanna Goodwin, Tom O’Connell and Bill Siel.

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