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Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore officials emphasize business recovery efforts

Baltimore officials touted the city’s efforts to help businesses recover in the aftermath of last month’s riots.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Baltimore Development Corp. President William Cole held a news conference Tuesday at the Southeast Anchor Library of the Enoch Pratt Free Library system, one of two U.S. Small Business Administration sites established to help businesses immediately following the riots, to highlight what the city is offering to help these businesses.

“I know that all of us were saddened, disappointed and angry by what transpired, but like many of you, I remain resolved to transform this into an opportunity to make our city stronger,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We cannot let the reckless actions of a few slow our momentum.”

The BDC rolled out a storefront recovery grant program which gives businesses up to $5,000 to repair property damage to the exterior of a building. Those grants can be made available to businesses in as little time as 24 to 48 hours.

The SBA is also offering low-interest loans to businesses in the city and Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties that suffered physical damage and economic injury because of the unrest.

The BDC has also started a Baltimore Recovery Fund with the goal of raising $15 million to help provide loans for riot-damaged businesses. Once the goal is reached, the BDC intends to provide loans of up to $35,000 at zero percent interest, which can be converted into grants if certain benchmarks are met. About $500,000 has been raised for the fund so far.

BDC officials said about 380 businesses were damaged during the April 25 and 27 riots. The dollar amount of the damages is unknown, but Cole said a widely reported figure of $9 million is inaccurate and added it could be “months” before the total cost of the damage is known. A total estimate of damages, in terms of insurance claims, won’t be available until August when the Maryland Insurance Administration is expected to release a final figure for insurance claims.

“As Baltimore works harder to foster economic inclusion and create jobs, the health of the city’s economy is vital. These small businesses play a crucial role not only in strengthening the economy, but many serve a great need in the community they operate,” Cole said. “These businesses are critical in our neighborhoods and crucial for our main streets.”

About Adam Bednar

Adam Bednar covers real estate and development for The Daily Record.