Nearly 400 Baltimore businesses were damaged in the riots following the funeral of Freddie Gray. Some of them are still closed. Among those that have reopened, many have seen a drastic decline in business.
City, state, and federal governments all seem to agree that getting assistance to riot-damaged businesses is crucial to the city’s recovery. And yet, six weeks later, almost no money has gone out.
“In fact,” NPR reported this morning, “to date, not one business has received one of the loans offered by the city, state, and U.S. Small Business Administration in the aftermath” of the riots.
So what’s the holdup? A couple things, according to Baltimore Development Corporation CEO Bill Cole. “Unfortunately, we had no access to funds that we could just simply award right away,” Cole told NPR. While the state program could more easily make changes that “more responsive to the incidents that happened in Baltimore,” in the end “it’s still a loan program.” And loans come with a lot of t-crossing and i-dotting (and eventually eye-crossing).
It’s not so surprising then that despite state officials reporting 13 loans “ready to go,” some of the only money to have actually gone out to businesses has been three $5,000 grants from the city for emergency repairs.
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