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Financial Help On The Way For Vandalized Downtown Cleveland Businesses

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and business groups are pooling resources to help Downtown shops vandalized in the wake of demonstrations last month. The money will help businesses make up for losses insurance doesn’t cover.

Applications are due by the end of business on Tuesday, according to the online form. As of Monday morning, 38 businesses had applied, Downtown Cleveland Alliance CEO Joe Marinucci told Cuyahoga County’s Board of Control.

“And that might grow as the week goes on,” Marinucci said. “But again, we do think that given the resources and the amount of damages — by the way, the damages are still being calculated by the applicants — we should have the resources to help them.”

The city is considering around $1 million in help, according to county officials. The county board of control approved $100,000 in aid Monday.

Private funders are contributing, too. The Greater Cleveland Partnership will add between $40,000 and $100,000 to the fund, and DCA has committed $50,000, according to the county. The Cleveland Foundation is also reviewing a request for funding.

Thousands of people marched in downtown Cleveland May 30 to protest the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement.

Officers used pepper spray, tear gas and flash grenades at the Justice Center after some demonstrators threw water bottles and produce. Groups of people smashed windows along Euclid Avenue, some taking merchandise from stores.

Initial estimates put the total damage between $1.5 million and $3.5 million, with around 75 businesses or properties affected, county officials told the board of control in a series of written answers to questions about Monday’s agenda items.

At Monday’s meeting, board members sought to clarify that the business assistance was meant for smaller local companies, not large chains with a Downtown presence.

“We are not going to be assisting banks, or insurance companies, or Starbucks, or the Indians or the casino?” Republican Councilwoman Nan Baker asked. “We are specifically going to address small business owners and minority- and female-owned businesses?”

Marinucci concurred.

County development staff will sit on the committee reviewing applications. Businesses must provide copies of their insurance claims in order to receive county funds.

The county’s contribution was originally set at $400,000, but the board of control dropped it to $100,000. County council or the board of control could consider adding more money once the program gets started, council legislative budget advisor Trevor McAleer said.

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