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Small business in Wisconsin still hurting from COVID

Brad Williams

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Bob Good

From Bayfield to Bangor to Baraboo, people in the Wisconsin tourism business are worried about staying open through more months of COVID-19. 

The Wisconsin Main Street Alliance held a Zoom meeting about tourism trouble on Tuesday, shortly after President Trump called off talks aimed at sending more stimulus money to small businesses.

One concerned business owner is Lars Johnson, whose Door County restaurant is famous for its goats on the roof. 

Johnson hopes to continue outdoor dining opportunities into the cold weather season.

“We’re going to stay open, hopefully until Christmas,” said Johnson. “And then we’ll see what the new year brings.”   

Representative Jill Billings of La Crosse works on tourism issues, and took part in the discussion, pointing to La Crosse’s 3rd Street as a microcosm of how the pandemic has affected businesses.

“You could see, it was wide open” after the original closing order was lifted in May, says Democrat Billings. “The Supreme Court and the Republicans put no guidelines in place to help small businesses after they sort of put aside what the governor had planned.”

Billings says downtown businesses in La Crosse have been filling up empty storefronts, but now some business owners wonder how long they can stay open.      

Business owners in eastern Wisconsin also worry about the latest decision by the Packers to possibly keep fans out of the home games at Lambeau for the rest of the season.      

Governor Tony Evers is ordering new limits on the size of indoor gatherings for the next month, as COVID cases continue to surge. 

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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