Store owners in Minneapolis are boarding up ahead of the Derek Chauvin murder-trial verdict, fearing potential unrest

george floyd derek chauvin trial
Law enforcement stands guard as crews remove artwork from temporary fencing outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 2, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

  • Businesses in Minneapolis are preparing for the Derek Chauvin murder-trial verdict.
  • Fearing unrest, some restaurant and store owners are boarding up their premises.
  • An owner of a dry cleaners told the New York Times he’d cleared out his store.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Stores and restaurants in Minneapolis are preparing for potential unrest as they await the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

Chauvin, a 45-year-old former police officer, is accused of killing George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his body for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

The jury heard closing arguments of the trial on Monday. The verdict could arrive this week.

Floyd’s death triggered months-long protests over racism and police brutality in the US and worldwide. Some stores, including in Minneapolis, were damaged or looted, and now some business owners in the city are preempting possible unrest after the Chauvin verdict by boarding up or emptying their stores.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some businesses, including a Target, were boarded up on downtown’s Nicollet Mall. The New York Times also reported that phone stores, furniture shops, restaurants including Quruxlow and Hook Fish & Chicken, and Mercado Central, a Latino market in the city, had been boarded up.

An NPR reporter tweeted on Wednesday that Haskell’s wine shop was also boarded up.

Samir Patel, owner of dry-cleaning shop Elite Cleaners, told the Times on Monday that he’d moved customers’ clothes to his home. He hadn’t boarded up the shop, he said.

“We don’t know what will happen,” he added.

Read more: Derek Chauvin’s trial is testing the stress levels of Black Americans. Here’s what leaders and allies can do to help.

Patel said his shop suffered half a million dollars in damage in the civil unrest following Floyd’s death. He had to exhaust his savings and retirement accounts to reopen the business, he said. The city looked like “a war zone” at the time, he added.

From Wednesday, schools in Minneapolis will switch to remote learning, and razor wire has been wrapped around police buildings. National Guard troops are already present in some areas of downtown Minneapolis.

Insider has reached out to other businesses and retailers in Minneapolis to see how they’re preparing.

Are you a business owner in Minneapolis? Get in touch with this reporter via Twitter, or email kduffy@insider.com.

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The pandemic may have caused 200,000 business closures – fewer than expected

Store closed coronavirus
A store closure in New York.

  • A Fed survey found that 200,000 extra US businesses have permanently closed in the past year.
  • That’s on top of the estimated 600,000 businesses that close in a given year.
  • Small businesses were not hit as hard as expected, which could be because of government aid.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In recent years, Federal Reserve economists have estimated that 600,000 US businesses have permanently closed each year. But a Fed study released on Thursday found that the pandemic has resulted in an additional 200,000 permanent closures of businesses over prepandemic levels – or about a quarter to a third above normal.

Individual companies account for about two-thirds of the closures, while personal service providers, like hair and nail salons, were the hardest hit, accounting for 100,000 permanent closures between March 2020 and February 2021.

“Business exit implies permanent job destruction, potentially detaching workers from the labor market and limiting the speed of the employment recovery,” the study said.

The study also said that small businesses had lower exit rates than expected from early on in the pandemic, and while the Fed economists did not provide a reason for this in the study, many small businesses have managed to stay afloat with the help of government aid.

The expectations early in the pandemic were dire for small business. For instance, the National Federation of Independent Business found in a July survey that 23% of small businesses expected to be closed within six months unless economic conditions changed.

Government aid may have accounted for some of this upside surprise. Insider reported on March 16 that most small businesses continued to pay their bills during the pandemic through the Paycheck Protection Program, which gives loans to small businesses.

On top of stimulus aid, Biden’s infrastructure plan could also help mitigate the toll the pandemic has had on US businesses. The president proposed a $400 billion investment to strengthen and protect America’s businesses, which would encourage and promote domestic production of goods.

But the aid can only last so long, and The Wall Street Journal reported that businesses that have not yet permanently closed could soon collapse under the burdens of back rent and unpaid loans.

Insider also reported on Friday that the situation remains challenging for businesses that are open – they’re struggling to hire because of a labor shortage caused by a number of things, including unemployment benefits disincentivizing people to work and fear of contracting COVID-19.

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White-owned small businesses are twice as likely to get financing as Black- and Latino-owned firms, Fed survey finds

black owned business sign
  • A Fed survey found white-owned small businesses were twice as likely to get non-emergency financing as Black-owned ones.
  • It also found that 46% of Black-owned firms that applied for financing didn’t get anything.
  • Black-owned businesses also experienced delays in receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Small businesses have been hit hard financially by COVID-19, and government aid from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, along with regular, non-emergency financing from banks, has helped those businesses stay afloat.

But access to funding – or lack thereof – still often breaks down along racial lines, according to a new survey conducted by 12 Federal Reserve Banks.

The survey, conducted in September and October 2020, yielded 9,693 responses from a small businesses with between one to 499 employees, and another 4,531 responses from non-employer firms, with responses corresponding to the prior 12 months. It found that aid from banks, along with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, has disproportionately gone to white-owned businesses, and firms owned by people of color have in many cases gone without the help they need.

According to the credit survey released on Thursday, white-owned small businesses were twice as likely to be fully approved for financing as Black- and Latino-owned businesses last year. Among Latino-owned firms with low-credit risk, 25% received requested non-emergency financing, while 48% of white-owned firms received all requested financing. The survey also found that Black- and Latino-owned business with low credit risk were approved for full financing at nearly the same rate as white-owned businesses with medium to high credit risk.

Here are the other key findings of the survey:

  • Businesses owned by people of color were more likely than white-owned businesses to report reduced operations or temporary closure during the pandemic;
  • 13% of Black-owned firms received all the financing they sought during the pandemic, compared to the 40% of white-owned firms;
  • 46% of Black-owned firms that applied for financing received nothing;
  • And among non-employer firms, those with white owners were twice as likely as those with Black owners to receive all the PPP funding they sought.

Insider reported on March 16 that the PPP has factored into small businesses maintaining strong credit standings due to aid provided since the start of the pandemic, but experts said the government needs to provide more targeted aid beyond the pandemic to ensure equitable distribution.

“Let’s find those businesses that really need the help,” Brett Theodos, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told Insider last month. “Let’s support entrepreneurial ecosystems where they’re not well developed, let’s help de-risk loans that really are high risk, let’s overcome the race equity gap that exists and business ownership in this country, and let’s be more intentional around our targeting.”

On March 30, Biden signed the PPP extension into law, which allows small businesses to receive aid from the program through May 31, and he also included $50 billion in small business aid in his $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

But since the program was established under the CARES Act in March, it has run into a host of problems that prohibited eligible businesses from receiving aid. For example, although loans within the program are intended for businesses with 500 or fewer employees, some large companies got them, such as fast-food chain Shake Shack getting $10 million, which it later returned.

And Brookings data from last year found that businesses in communities of color were least likely to have existing relationships with large banks, causing an average 31-day delay for small businesses in majority-Black zip codes to receive their PPP loans.

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