The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Bessemer to place new welcome signs


August 9, 2019


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Bessemer — The city of Bessemer Downtown Development Authority approved funds for new city welcome signs and for various business programs at its Thursday meeting.

The authority approved $15,000 for two new welcome signs that are expected to be ready to install by Oct. 1. Authority members Adam Zak, Jim Durkee, Kara Bjorkquist and Bridget O’Sullivan were not present.

Local artist Doug Kikkebush was commissioned to create the two wood and metal signs, said Dustin Filippini, authority member. The signs will be placed at the east and west ends of Bessemer on US-2, he said.

The authority approved 4-0 an extension of the Pop-Up Shop program for Ken’s Old Time Barber Shop in the Bessemer Commons Building at 509 W. Lead St. The program provides up to $500 in monthly rental assistance for up to six months, or a one-to-one dollar match up to $500 for approved upgrades.

The program has helped several businesses since it was started nearly three years ago, Filippini said. Posters to encourage more applicants to the program will be placed in buildings around Bessemer, he said.

The barber shop was awarded a maximum of $3,500 over six months, he said. The rent was low enough that only $2,100 was used over six months and so the authority awarded the extension for the remaining $1,400, he said.

“In cases like this when the rent is cheaper we can extend,” Filippini said.

Ken Billings, the barber shop owner, who was present with Sandy Muzzy, business manager, said he opened March 9, and that his six month Pop-Up Shop funding was due to expire this month.

Billings, a licensed barber with 49 years experience, said business has been good with a growing base of regular customers and first time customers. The extension request was for his concern that many of his customers are seasonal residents and that business during the winter months could slow down considerably until he establishes a stronger local clientele, he said.

“I feel the barber shop is an asset to the community and I am proud to offer my services,” Billings said. “The only thing that worries me is going into the winter.”

Billings said that he works three days a week at age 73. He is seeking a second barber to work the three other business days.

The four authority members present also awarded $745 in matching funds toward $1,490 in exterior improvements made by owners of Round 2 Saloon at 208 S. Sophie St., in Bessemer. The work involved purchases of paint, primer and a rental boom truck and was approved for a 50% match through the city Facade Improvement program.

“They requested money to repair the exterior and were approved for up to $3,300 with a one-to-one match,” Filippini said. “The Facade Improvement program helps fix up buildings downtown.”


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