Almost four months to the day after the death of George Floyd, a fund created to benefit the community around the Allianz Field soccer stadium in St. Paul is ready to accept applications for riot-related business relief, rebuilding and relocation.
The St. Paul Midway Fund will make two forms of “Small Business Economic Justice grants” available at MidwayUnited.org.
“That’s dedicating everything that was collected after George Floyd was murdered,” said Isabel Chanslor, who has described herself as the interim fund manager.
A total of more than $340,000 will be targeted to roughly 21 small businesses in need of damage relief. Qualifying business can apply for up to $15,000 to assist owners with paying for smoke and water cleanup, glass replacement, replacement of stolen goods, lost inventory and any other damages they experienced due to riots, looting and unrest.
Another $500,000 will serve at least 10 businesses through a “Rebuild and Relocation” program. Each qualifying business can apply for up to $50,000 to assist in rebuilding efforts, ranging from total fire loss to help with relocation costs due to eviction or loss of lease.
Applications will be accepted through Dec. 20, or until funds run out. A team of “small business connectors” will go door-to-door to help storeowners assemble application materials, such as business tax returns, property damage estimates, pictures of damages, contractor estimates and other documentation of losses. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Small businesses and retail-based nonprofits with less than $2 million in annual sales revenue and located within three miles of Allianz Field are invited to apply, though preference will be given to businesses within a half mile of the stadium.
Behind the scenes, some members of the Union Park District Council and Hamline-Midway Coalition have fumed that the fund has taken too long to make money available. The neighborhood nonprofits launched the fund last year through a memorandum of understanding with the the St. Paul Foundation, which holds the money.
On Lake Street in Minneapolis, a similar business fund posted applications for rebuilding dollars within two weeks of the riots and arsons that shuttered or destroyed storefronts in their business district.
In St. Paul, an influx of nearly $1 million followed Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and a series of arsons in St. Paul’s Midway, precipitating infighting and sudden turnover within the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative. The collaborative was set up as an advisory group to recommend stadium-area improvements.
In a written statement on Sunday, the Neighbors United Funding Collaborative noted that the fund was created to provide “grants to residents, local businesses and community organizations who bring forth innovative ideas and projects focusing on economic development, placemaking, public art, preventing displacement and preserving what we all love most about our community.”