Lake Street fund provides $2.8 million to businesses so far, more to come

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It’s been nearly two months since riots destroyed businesses along Lake Street in Minneapolis. The cleanup is ongoing, as businesses try to rebuild.

The Lake Street Council believes it could take 5 to 10 years for a full recovery. More than $8 million have been donated to the We Love Lake Street Recovery Fund. Grants are now being distributed to 175 businesses.

“It’s much-needed help,” said Ahmed Muhumud, one of the owners of Midtown Eye Care. “Our plan is to open up as soon as possible.”

There is a fence preventing anyone from getting close to the clinic right now. Muhumud said it was looted on May 27, with the thieves taking computers and frames.

“We tried moving everything else that we could into the basement space that we had, thinking it would be more protected and safe,” said Muhumud.

Still, they experienced more looting and then a fire destroyed the business. They estimate the damages total $150,000 to $200,000.

“We pretty much lost everything,” he said. “There were a few things we were able to salvage and even some of those we’re not sure of the condition.”

Midtown Eye Care applied for a We Love Lake Street Recovery Fund grant and will receive $25,000 to help them rebuild. Muhumud said they’re grateful for the funds and support from the community.

“We’re a safety net clinic," he said. "We serve a lot of people who have a difficult time getting to clinics outside of the main corridor, rely on public transportation, rely on medical assistance and things like that.”

The 175 businesses selected for the first round of grants will receive a combined $2.8 million. Eighty-six percent are Black, Indigenous, People of Color or Immigrant-owned, according to the Lake Street Council.

Of the funded applicants, 142 businesses have fewer than 10 employees. Another 29 businesses have 10 to 50 employees. The rest have more than 50 employees.

According to the Lake Street Council, the average request size was $17,643. Businesses are eligible for up to $25,000 in grant funding.

“We are here to help every single business to be a vibrant community as it was before all this happened,” said Asad Aliweyd, who is on the advisory committee.

Aliweyd, the founder of the New American Development Center, is one of more than a dozen community members on the committee.

“We want to help every business on the corridor, on Lake Street, that had been looted, burned down, damaged, or who needs technical support, financial support, business support or legal support,” he said. “Any business that has any direct or indirect consequences of the riots will have some sort of support.”

He explained they’re goal to help businesses between E 26th and E 32nd streets, from Lake Bde Mka Ska to the river.

“Most ethnic businesses […] these are the only savings they have,” said Aliweyd. “Everything was depending on this small business so if they lost this, they lost everything so we need to help as much as we could.”

Aliweyd told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that they want to preserve the small business corridor.

“We don’t want outside real estate people come into Lake Street and buy the land and build something and change the face of Lake Street,” he said. “We want Lake Street to be as diverse as it is in people, in business and in culture. We want this community to be thriving and booming again.”

The Lake Street Council said this first round of funding should be getting to the businesses next week. It’s just for businesses that applied before the first of four deadlines. They expect to provide $4 million to $5 million to roughly 350 businesses as they continue to go through applications.

Other businesses gathered at city hall on Thursday to demand action from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Governor Tim Walz.

“I had a building right at Chicago and Lake for furniture, three floors of furniture,” said Faisal Demaag, the owner of Chicago Furniture Warehouse. “The whole thing came down to ashes.”

He said he’s been located there for about 30 years.

“I built it from scratch and I lost everything from top to bottom,” said Demaag. “The debris company asked me for close to $133,000 to remove the debris, my insurance is willing to pay only $25,000. How am I going to get it, how am I going to pay the rest?”

“We need help, we need support from our government. Please respond to our request, I’m not sure where to go.”

He was joined by members of African Immigrant Lake Council.

“They’ve had no help for the last two months, their offices don’t return calls,” said Ibrahim Demmaj, owner of G & L Furniture. “We called the governor’s office he’s not picking up the phone. We call the mayor’s office his phone is busy. […] It’s been almost eight weeks, we haven’t heard from anybody yet, still waiting and hoping something is going to change.”

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