Destruction is estimated at $9 million for about 285 businesses damaged during the recent unrest in Baltimore — which officials say is only a fraction of what the total will be for the damage and economic impact.
The estimate, which came from the Small Business Administration, was released Wednesday. City and state officials say they are continuing to develop a final tally of the damage.
The federal agency estimated the damage at $8.9 million to about 285 businesses and $60,000 to two houses — with at least 30 sustaining major damage, officials told the Baltimore Sun. The city’s economic development arm, the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC), has released a higher estimate of damaged businesses: 350.
It’s unclear when city and state officials might release their final cost of the unrest. The City Council will convene a hearing June 9 to investigate the total expenses. Along with the damaged businesses, officials reported nearly 150 vehicle fires and more than 60 structure fires.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, along with other Maryland Democrats, called for the Small Business Administration to assist with the creation of disaster centers in the city and a plan to inform business owners who are eligible for benefits about how to apply for assistance.
“This physical disaster determination and quick follow-through is necessary to help ensure that Baltimore business owners can get the physical disaster loan assistance and economic injury disaster loan assistance they need to repair or replace real estate, personal property, equipment, or inventory damaged or destroyed in the disturbance,” Mikulski wrote in the letter the Small Business Administration. The letter also was signed by U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) and U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).
The Small Business Administration issued a Physical Disaster Declaration for the city Monday. The period cited for the damage stretched from April 25 to May 3.
The officials called the declaration an “important first step in the recovery and rebuilding process — but more needs to be done in a timely manner.”
The BDC, meanwhile, announced that it has established the Baltimore Business Recovery Fund to help the damaged businesses. The goal is to raise $15 million for a loan program. More than $200,000 has been donated.
“As Baltimore works harder to foster economic inclusion and create jobs, the health of the city’s economy is vital,” BDC President William H. Cole IV said in a statement. “Small businesses play a crucial role in not only strengthening the economy, but also serve a strong need in the neighborhoods in which they operate.”
Cole said the number of damaged businesses from the BDC is based on a canvass. Affected businesses can apply for zero-interest loans of up to $35,000. The loans may be converted into grants if certain benchmarks are met.
Many of the damaged businesses have limited or no insurance coverage, according to the BDC. Some of the most severely damaged businesses remain closed, and some of the owners have no source of income.
Baltimore Sun reporter Natalie Sherman contributed to this report.