The Minneapolis Foundation aims to raise $20 million from corporate partners to assist the small-business rebuild of the three Minneapolis-St. Paul commercial corridors damaged by the looting and arson that followed the May 2020 killing of George Floyd.
Its Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund (RRRFund.org) is approaching the halfway point of its goal. The Restore fund started with a challenge grant from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.
It has received donations so far from Target Corp., the Donaldson Foundation and Mortenson, the construction company.
"I am inspired by the determination of these small businesses to rebuild," Rod Young, chief executive of Delta Dental of Minnesota, said in a statement. "Because of their fighting spirit and the love for their communities, we've joined with other major businesses and neighborhood nonprofits to accelerate their rebuilding efforts."
An estimated 350 businesses along Lake Street and West Broadway in Minneapolis and University Avenue in St. Paul were damaged or destroyed.
The funders are partnering with the Lake Street Council, the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, and the Midway Chamber of Commerce in St. Paul on fundraising and distribution.
Mortenson has provided pro bono services to assist affected businesses and connect those business owners with local minority-owned contractors for services.
"The physical restoration of these main corridors in our community is vital," said Lynn Littlejohn, vice president of community affairs and development for Mortenson. "Much has been accomplished so far, but a significant amount of work remains. Time becomes a factor. That's why we need to act now and act decisively to restore these three key cultural and business corridors."
A video documentary produced by the Minneapolis Foundation features recovering business owners such as Wonneda Hing of Universal Hair Design in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, Fidencio Cruz of Maria's Restaurante on E. Lake Street and K.B. Brown, owner of Wolfpack Promotionals on West Broadway in Minneapolis.
"I will not quit until I know I can't go on anymore," Hing said in the video. "I will strive to find some funding, some loans, to help my dream."
Private insurance has been estimated at covering only about half the estimated $550 million in damage to businesses disproportionately owned by small operators, many of them immigrants and people of color.
The Minneapolis Foundation fund is the latest effort to help raise supplemental capital. Twin Cities LISC, the Lake Street Council, the St. Paul and Minnesota Foundation and others also have raised millions of dollars to help fill the gap.
"These small-business owners are part of a long-standing legacy of immigrants who came to Minnesota to forge a new future for themselves and their adopted new home," said R.T. Rybak, president of the Minneapolis Foundation. "Many fled wars and strife in their homelands. There's no one who understands better what it means to rebuild than these business owners. That's why we're investing in them."