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A ray of hope for damaged Lake St. businesses

Nonprofit Urban Ventures distributes aid checks to owners of small businesses impacted by riots.

MINNEAPOLIS — More than 100 small businesses in the battered Lake Street corridor are getting a timely boost to help pay some bills and get ready to take on customers again.

Urban Ventures, a nonprofit agency that has operated in the area of 4th Avenue South and East Lake Street for 25 years, is distributing $5,000 checks to neighborhood businesses in distress.

"A lot of them are just small businesses that were just basically barely making it during the coronavirus crisis, and then they got hit with the rioting and looting and all that," John Turnipseed, executive vice president of Urban Ventures, told KARE Tuesday.

"Some of them couldn’t reopen because they hadn’t paid rent. Some of them couldn’t reopen because they had no merchandise."

The money came through donations to the "Better Together MPLS" campaign, which received contributions from businesses across the state, including an anonymous $800,000 donation. 

Turnipseed said he expects to reach at least 150 businesses that are located withing a three-block radius of the Urban Ventures office in the Colin Powell Center. He said the funds are unrestricted, so they can be used to catch up on rent, make repairs, replace equipment and other expenses that aren't covered by insurance.

RELATED: Lawmakers look to revive riot-ravaged businesses

Yolanda Garibay, a first-generation immigrant who owns the Impact Insurance Agency is among those receiving a check. She said she'll use it to replace furniture and office computers that incurred water damage or were destroyed by looters in the civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd.

"You see your business being damaged and that’s very hard to see, and you can’t do anything about it," Garibay told KARE.

She said the office had been closed since March because of the COVID-19 scare, but she came down to Lake Street when adjacent business owners called to say her building was on fire.

When Yolanda arrived, she discovered the fire was a burning vehicle in the adjoining garage, and the flames had been extinguished by automatic sprinklers. But then she turned around to see looters trashing her office.

"We saw a vehicle that stopped by, people got off and they just started breaking all our windows and we saw when they came in and did damage to the buildings."

The first ray of hope was when Urban Ventures staff dropped by to check on her, and followed up by sending volunteers to help with the clean up effort.

"Fortunately, Urban Ventures has giving us a fund so we can start rebuilding our businesses and I’m really thankful for that."

For the past five weeks Urban Ventures hosted a temporary food distribution in the gymnasium of the Colin Powell Center. This Thursday, July 2, will be the final distribution day.

Those who'd like to donate food or personal and household goods may drop them off at 2924 4th Ave. South in Minneapolis on Wednesday, July 1 or Thursday, July 2.

RELATED: Lawmakers look to revive riot-ravaged businesses