Applications now open for grants to help Richmond businesses damaged during riots

Council approves grant program that will help Richmond businesses damaged during riots

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond City Council approved the Stoney administration’s move to put aside $500,000 to help businesses recover from damage sustained in recent riots.

The Business Recovery Grant Program will include one-time grants to eligible businesses, non-profit organizations and commercial property owners to fix the damage, including window repair, graffiti removal and more.

“Though many protests have been peaceful, sporadic nights of severe property damage have hurt our small business community,” said Mayor Stoney. “These grants will help those establishments get back on their feet and send a message to the owners and employees of those businesses that they’re heard, they’re valued and we’re in this together.”

Windows at the VCU West Grace North Residence Hall were smashed on Saturday night.
Windows at the VCU West Grace North Residence Hall were smashed on Saturday night. (Source: Hannah Eason, The Commonwealth Times)

It really is welcomed news for many small businesses, especially when so many have been hit by a double whammy: COVID-19 and violent protests.

As protesters marched across the nation, so many have been doing the same in Richmond, night after night. It’s no secret, the aftermath was serious after some resorted to destruction to make their point.

“We all understood why the protests were happening…and we knew we could rebuild again,” Anthony Bryant said.

He owns The Little Nomad is in the heart of Jackson Ward on Broad Street. He had to dish out some money following rioting in that area.

“We got re-painting done. We had spray paint right here. This is where all of our plywood came off…We had a little bit {of} ACAB kind of thing,” he said referring to the vandalism of his shop.

Surrounding his business, plywood remains up and graffiti is still evident months later.

“It is definitely less folks down here and that’s not something we want to see…Folks are saying it doesn’t look inviting,” Bryant added.

A business can apply for up to $10,000 to make necessary repairs if they suffered damage during the civil unrest. The grants will be a reimbursement of expenses paid to repair property destruction.

“For the city to finally acknowledge, yes these folks may need some sort of assistance, I think it’s a good step in the right direction….A lot of these folks need this help right now,” Bryant said.

The city’s Commercial Area Revitalization Effort (CARE) Program is the proposed funding source for the one-time grant program. The normal CARE Program grants will not be impacted by the creation of the one-time grant program.

All but two council members voted for the plan, Ellen Robertson and Mike Jones. Jones says he’s not against helping hurt businesses but he’s afraid that could take away from loans the city provides to help other businesses - especially those in distressed parts of the city that needed help prior to the pandemic and the protests. A city spokesperson says that won’t be the case.

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