Birmingham Relief Fund could help business damaged during protests get back to work

Grant program to help businesses

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new grant program aims to help businesses damaged during last Sunday’s protests.

The owner of the California Fashion Mall said his business suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, but a program spearheaded by Spire may be able to help him and others move forward.

Damage left behind at the California Fashion Mall, following protests that turned violent Sunday night, included glass doors and windows shattered and the inside torched.

“The riot damage, our building burned up. Even if you have full coverage, it’s not covered at all. But for my merchandise, I only got liability. So, I lost the merchandise,” said owner, David Kim.

Kim has been the owner of the shop for more than four decades. He estimated losing nearly $250,000 in merchandise.

“I’m not angry, I’m very disappointed. I’m just sad. I know why they do it, I know, but that’s too much,” Kim said.

After seeing the damage to dozens of downtown businesses, several agencies including the City of Birmingham, the Birmingham Business Alliance, Urban Impact, Rev Birmingham, and the Community Foundation came together looking for solutions to get small businesses back on their feet.

“We created this grant fund in order to help them repair and rebuild,” said Executive Director of Urban Impact Inc. Ivan Holloway.

“This fund was actually seeded by funding from Spire and they laid the groundwork for a number of individuals and organizations to support and provide additional resources to come to fruition,” Holloway said.

The grants will be determined based on the funds available and a demonstrated need. Priority will be given to small business and property owners who employ less than 25 people, women, minorities, and non-profits.

“We are trying to move expeditiously, I don’t have a time frame, but we’re going to try to put the money in these folks’ hands as soon as possible,” Holloway said.

Mr. Kim said he’s not sure if he will reopen the California Shopping Mall.

At 75, he can retire, but he will make a decision once everything is cleaned up and he has a better understanding of what his options are.

Business owners who would like to apply for the Birmingham Business Relief Fund can do so by visiting the Rev Birmingham website at revbirmingham.org and search “Birmingham Business Relief Fund.”

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