Corporations, nonprofits and private donors join to help rebuild small businesses

The Minneapolis Foundation in coordination with community donations hopes to have $20 million added by year’s end to the coffers of its community-based Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund (RRRFund.org). The fund was established last year to support small businesses affected by last summer’s unrest in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

The fund was started with a challenge grant from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. It has received major contributions from Target Corporation, the Donaldson Foundation, and Mortenson Company. Mortenson, one of Minnesota’s largest construction companies, has been providing pro bono services and technical consultation to assist impacted businesses and connecting affected business owners with local minority-owned contractors for services.

Donations to the Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund will be used specifically to help small businesses along the Lake Street corridor, West Broadway, and along the University and Midway area in St. Paul. These efforts range from minor repairs to store façades to the complete reconstruction of buildings.

The businesses will work in partnership with the Lake Street Council, the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, and the Midway Chamber of Commerce in St. Paul, which will ensure they get whatever help is needed in their rebuilding efforts.

“I am personally inspired by the determination of these small businesses to rebuild,” said Rod Young, CEO and president of Delta Dental of Minnesota. “Because of their fighting spirit and the love for their communities, we’ve joined with other major businesses and neighborhood nonprofits to accelerate their rebuilding efforts. Through our foundation, we want to build on their momentum.”

 “The physical restoration of these main corridors in our community is vital,” said Lynn Littlejohn, vice president of community affairs and development for Mortenson. “Much has been accomplished so far, but a significant amount of work remains. We’ve learned in our community outreach efforts over the past year that many of these small businesses were underinsured,” said Littlejohn. “The Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund will help fill that gap.”

The businesses’ stories have been captured in their own words in a new 12-minute mini-documentary called Corridors. It shows how businesses on Lake Street and West Broadway in Minneapolis, and on University Avenue in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood were damaged or destroyed, how the community came together to help, and why owners are passionate about staying in their neighborhoods, rebuilding their businesses and reimagining their futures. The documentary is available for viewing on RRRFund.org.

The mini-documentary was created in support of the Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund and serves as a call-to-action to encourage further philanthropic investment in the Minneapolis and St. Paul communities affected by the civil unrest.

“These small business owners are part of a longstanding legacy of immigrants who came to Minnesota to forge a new future for themselves and their adopted new home,” said R.T. Rybak, president of the Minneapolis Foundation. “Many fled wars and strife in their homelands.”

“I think all together we can make this thing better again,” said Fidencio Cruz, owner of Maria’s Restaurante and Mercado Central on Lake Street near Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis. “It was great before, but we can make Lake Street even better.”

“It’s hard to do something alone,” said Christina Le, who owns Lake Wine & Spirits with her husband, both immigrants from Vietnam. “We would like to stay here as long as possible, grow with the city, and reinvest our time and money into our neighborhood again. No guts, no glory.”

Business and community leaders and individuals who want to help can give directly to the Restore-Rebuild-Reimagine Fund at RRRFund.org, by emailing rebuild@mplsfoundation.org, or texting “REBUILD” to 243725.