By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of giving people in a small Wisconsin town is doing their part to keep their businesses open.

What started as the “50 People Who Care” program in Cumberland has turned into a main street movement during trying times.

A retired financial consultant, E. Dennis Zahrbock, spent his life watching the difference investing money can make.

“Very little is done for the business community. Being a former business owner I said why don’t we do something for the business community,” Zahrbock said.

“The idea is we each throw in $100 a quarter,” he explained.

The once “50 People Who Care” signed on to provide that boost to Cumberland’s Main Street.

“As of this morning we have 69 members so that means this quarter’s winner will get $6,900,” Zahrbock said.

Their first $5,500 went to the Island City Food Co-op for the 40-year old business to make some much needed repairs to an old freezer.

“COVID has certainly created many more needs. It’s really difficult when we get to the videos because they’re all so good,” Zahrbock said.

This quarter a restaurant, coffee shop and unique art studio made their pitch to the program through submitting videos.

Jeff Hile’s Dancing Bird Art Gallery and Music Shop has been in business for 13 years.

“I think main street businesses are having a tough time because online retailing has cut into their ability to sell things,” Hile said.

 Hile hopes to use the money to improve handicap accessibility at his store and for more energy efficient.

“It will help us both from the curb appeal side and also making it available for everybody to come in,” Hile said.

The group will vote virtually and announce this quarter’s winner next week. With a mission now to inspire more communities to make the same investment.

“We’d love to start chapter 2, chapter 3 we’d love to have 1,000 chapters someday,” Zahrbock said.

The program hopes to continue even after COVID-19 is under control.  There is no other commitment other than agreeing to pay $100 a quarter and to vote on the videos once they are submitted.

If you’d like more information on starting your own chapter you can contact Dennis Zahrbock by e-mailing edennis@c-backco.com

Liz Collin

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