MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some fast and unexpected help is on the way to 150 businesses that were damaged amidst the unrest after George Floyd’s death. An anonymous man plans to get dozens of these businesses up and running, sooner rather than later.

What was once a vibrant community full of immigrant-owned businesses is now a street marked by trauma and devastation.

“People come to see the destruction like it’s a museum, but its not a museum,” business owner Jesus Garcia said.

Garcia grew up in Mexico, and now he runs a Lake Street store in hopes of providing for his family, and employees. With COVID-19 his sales were already down 60%, and the hits kept on coming.

Garcia was was one of the lucky ones. His building is made of concrete blocks and a steel door. But he says looters stole $5,000 worth of equipment out back.

The AutoZone next to him was completely destroyed, and it’s that destruction that’s prompted an unlikely group to respond.

“We want to help them open as quickly as possible. In some places, it’s repairing broken glass, in other cases it’s stocking helves, in other cases it’s more comprehensive,” Dave Hawn, CEO of Urban Ventures, said.

Urban Ventures typically focuses on education and parental support, but with COVID-19 and a Lake Street location, they’ve shifted to feeding thousands of people through donations.

A new million-dollar donation will help them give fast cash to businesses who are waiting for loans and insurance.

“We are really hoping these businesses reopen and thrive again. This community doesn’t make it without restored economic vitality,” Hawn said.

Garcia will be one of 150 recipients of the cash gift, and he plans to put it to good use.

“We need to continue working, fighting, and I hope things get better for all of us,” he said.

Each of the businesses is set to get checks for several thousand dollars next week, no strings attached.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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