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Minority-Owned Businesses Face Long Road After MN Protests

The African Paradise restaurant in south Minneapolis is located near the site where the most intense protests occurred following the death of George Floyd. Like other minority-owned businesses, it faces an uncertain future because of damage to the building. (Nancy Korsah)
The African Paradise restaurant in south Minneapolis is located near the site where the most intense protests occurred following the death of George Floyd. Like other minority-owned businesses, it faces an uncertain future because of damage to the building. (Nancy Korsah)
June 1, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- It took a long time for minority business owners to get established in parts of Minneapolis where protests demanding justice for George Floyd escalated over the weekend. But the property damage left in the wake will likely put those businesses and their customers in an even tougher situation.

Scores of peaceful protests followed last week's police killing of Floyd. But for several nights, tensions have boiled over, leaving behind fires and other damage to a host of buildings - including small businesses operated by members of those same communities.

Black Business Enterprises CEO Nancy Korsah said there are fears that some establishments never will reopen.

"African Paradise restaurant, they're a restaurant, but also in their downtime they feed people once a week for free. There's no way she can come back and reopen that restaurant at this point because there's just not enough there to even start over," Korsah said. "And this was years of blood, sweat and tears put in this place."

Others have expressed concern that if grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations in these communities are unable to operrate, residents with limited income and transportation will be left with almost no options for obtaining necessities.

Korsah has started a Go-Fund-Me campaign to raise money for a handful of owners who saw damage to their buildings.

The destruction from the fires and the looting come at a time when businesses have already been hit hard by pandemic shutdowns. And Korsah said some of these businesses have had difficulty obtaining federal rescue loans offered by Congress in response to COVID-19.

She said they're calling on the state to provide emergency funds to businesses that have seen a double-whammy of lost revenue.

"We already know the big-box stores are going to be bailed out in some way or another. But for the small-business owners, we are needing a fund of some sort, a relief fund that all those business owners will be able to share," she said.

There have been some silver linings in recent days, as community members and volunteers have quickly stepped in to help clean up the debris and offer donations to those impacted by the unrest.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN