Two years after Gov. Walz let the cities burn, small business owners are still suffering

Small businesses are still reeling from the civil unrest and destruction that followed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder nearly two years ago. Where is the public funding?

Imagine watching your business, your family’s livelihood, something you’d built and hoped to pass down to your children one day, go up in smoke. Now imagine you must rebuild with little help from anyone.

This has been the harsh reality many Twin Cities small-business owners have had to face since 2020. The civil unrest of that summer caused more than $500 million in collective damage across the metro area, impacting many hundreds of businesses. Many were family-run operations, owned by low-income entrepreneurs, immigrants or families who are Black, Indigenous or people of color.

Insurance has covered anywhere from 0% to 40% of their losses. Often, affected businesses have not had enough equity to secure the financing needed to restore their operations. Meanwhile, there’s a very real threat of longtime small businesses being unable to afford their neighborhoods if new buildings are constructed without support to preserve affordability.

This is what many Minnesota business owners have been facing for nearly two years. The question weighing on our minds is: Why hasn’t our government responded adequately to meet these needs?

The above comes from a Star Tribune op-ed. We noted at the time that the victims of the riots of 2020 were disproportionately small business owners in mostly minority neighborhoods, many of them immigrants.

And it has to be remembered that these folks would not be in this horrible situation if Gov. Walz had stepped up and ended the riots quickly. Instead, as we chronicled in our magazine two years ago, he sat on his hands for three nights before finally committing the National Guard. The rioting ended immediately.

Over three nights in May 2020, state and city governments failed utterly in one of their core tasks of protecting the property of their citizens. The victims are owed some recompense.