Funding to rebuild riot-damaged Twin Cities businesses is at turning point

Funding to rebuild riot-damaged Twin Cities businesses is at turning point

Insurance claims have been paid. Pandemic relief dollars have gone dry. Online fundraisers have tapered.

Many businesses damaged or destroyed in the riots after the police murder of George Floyd have reopened in the two years since then. But for those that haven’t, there are fewer places to turn for financial help, and inflation is pushing up the cost of starting over.

“Right out of the chute there was this wonderful response on multiple levels,” said R.T. Rybak, chief executive of the Minneapolis Foundation, which is helping to distribute state-funded grants to Twin Cities-area businesses.

“But what became clear very quickly is this was going to need to be a long-term effort that needed more partners than just the private sector,” he said.

In the aftermath, with estimates of the damage hovering around $500 million, insurance companies largely delivered on claims, though the process wasn’t always smooth.

About $227 million in insured losses had been paid out by last summer to businesses damaged by the unrest, according to data collected by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Tens of millions more have likely been paid out by insurers since.

The property damage overall is nowhere near the most that insurers have covered in Minnesota. Weather-related disasters sometimes cost more: a 2017 hailstorm in Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids led to $3.2 billion in insured losses.

The role of insurance firms may have played out, but many businesses that were damaged in the unrest didn’t have insurance or were underinsured, leading to major funding gaps.

Help from the state is only just starting. About $45 million in state grants approved by the Legislature a year ago will flow to damaged businesses in the Twin Cities. It took months for state agencies to work out technical aspects of the program, to solicit proposals

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