BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Small business owners are still having trouble bouncing back from damage and looting from April’s unrest. Now some are starting to get the financial boost that could make all the difference.
Amy Yensi has details.READ MORE: Scott Signs Bill Establishing Baltimore City Police Accountability Board
The state says it has millions of dollars to help small businesses get back on track.
Business hours are in full swing, and what was once a busy sneaker store is closed. The doors have been locked since looters wiped out most the merchandise.
Down the block, a convenience store uses a wooden board to cover the entryway. The glass door was bashed in during the riots.
A walk through Highlandtown makes clear some Baltimore City businesses have not recovered from April’s unrest.
“Luckily, we had some good neighbors that they wouldn’t come over here and completely demolish the store,” said Juan Nunez, Tops in Cellulars, owner.
Nunez may seem like one of the lucky ones. His cell phone store avoided the vandalism, but the curfew and fear kept customers away. He says he’s still recovering from the dollar damage and hopes a $15,000 check will help him get back on track.READ MORE: Gun Spotted In Driver's Car Before Baltimore Officer Dragged, Court Documents Say
He’s the first Baltimore City business owner to get a loan from the Maryland Business Recovery Plan.
The loans are part of the state’s initiative to help Baltimore City businesses recover from the unrest.
“Businesses like Mr. Nunez’s are truly the building blocks of the foundation of the economy of the city of Baltimore,” said John Maneval, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
The DHCD launched the program within days of turmoil and is distributing the loans to qualifying impacted businesses. Residents say they depend on those small shops.
“We’re going to have to go downtown to shop, so we definitely need the store in the community,” said Maggie Scott.
“This is a very good start right here to get back on our feet,” said Nunez.
A head-start on the long road to recovery.
The loans are separate from the city and federal assistance also available.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Sunny & Warm
In addition to the loans, the program provides financing so businesses can repair and improve their storefronts.