Mural of George Floyd

Community Leaders Call on the State to Support Rebuilding Post 2020 Uprising

Part 2 of 2: It is nearly three years since the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Three communities — Lake Street in Minneapolis, Midway in St. Paul and West Broadway in Minneapolis — were directly impacted by the uprisings that followed. Part 1 of our series examined how each of these communities, home to large BIPOC and immigrant populations, continues to rebuild. Today we look at the legislature’s role in that funding, and current legislation proposed to support rebuilding processes.

Photo by Cirien Saadeh.

The Minnesota Legislature is currently considering major legislation that would include specific investments into the Lake Street, West Broadway and Midway communities, the neighborhoods most seriously affected by the uprising after Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd on May 25, 2020. 

Senate File (SF) 3035 would appropriate millions of dollars to be distributed across St. Paul and Minneapolis. SF3035 is the companion bill to House File (HF) 3028. Community leaders believe both could be crucial investments, if passed as amended, though the House’s legislation is considered to be more impactful. 

“You can get House and Senate leadership to say we’re going to have a rebuilding bill. The POCI [People of Color and Indigenous] Caucus has it as a top-tier issue,” said Russ Adams, manager for the Lake Street Council’s Corridor Recovery Initiatives. “But it’s difficult to see how they’re going to do that when you look at the two bills. They’re very different with different emphases. [The Lake Street Council] leans towards the House bill.” 

Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL-Minneapolis) chairs the House Economic Development Finance and Policy Committee. Photo: Minnesota Legislature.

The House Economic Development Finance and Policy bill would funnel over $100 million to impacted communities — recognizing that Lake Street, West Broadway and University Avenue are cultural corridors not impacted solely by the uprising. All three corridors have also suffered from decades of intentional disinvestment as well as the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. House File 3028 — as the bill is officially coded — was presented in committee on March 29. Since then, the bills have gone into conference committee as House and Senate legislators negotiate a shared bill for both legislative bodies to vote on. 

“The businesses that were most substantially impacted by COVID-19 are many of the same exact businesses that were impacted by the unrest following the murder of George Floyd,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in public testimony at the March 29 House Economic Development committee meeting. “We’re not just asking for funds alone. We as a city have been and are ready to step up and do our part.”

If passed without further amendment, SF3035 would support economic development in the metropolitan area. Also funded, as of the bill’s third version, are several appropriations that could support rebuilding and recovery efforts in the Lake Street, West Broadway and Midway neighborhoods.

These appropriations, not counting administrative costs (up to date as of May 3, 2023) include:

  • $47 million, split over two years, for the Neighborhood Development Center’s PROMISE Grant Program including:
    • $21 million for specific Northside neighborhoods in Minneapolis.
    • $13 million for specific South Minneapolis neighborhoods, including Lake Street and 38th & Chicago (home of George Floyd Square).
    • $13 million for specific St. Paul communities, including the area around University and Snelling Avenues.
  • $40 million, one-time funding, for the PROMISE Loan Program (different from the PROMISE Grant program) administered by the Metropolitan Economic Development Agency (MEDA), including:
    • $16 million, split over two years, for specific Northside neighborhoods.
    • $8 million, split over two years, for specific South Minneapolis neighborhoods.
    • $8 million, split over two years, for specific St. Paul neighborhoods.

You can read the current version of SF 3035 here.

On the other hand, the paused House legislation includes a more significant investment into small-business recovery for the impacted communities. The bill would also support the institutions that have already financially stepped up for impacted communities. If that bill began to move forward again, and passed without amendment, Lake Street, West Broadway and University Avenue would experience a large one-time investment in the State’s next two fiscal years.

A one-time investment is non-recurring funds or funds that need to be re-requested or re-appropriated during each legislative budgeting year. 

Appropriations, if passed without amendment, would include: 

  • $5 million for a revolving loan fund, to be distributed through MEDA, for minority-owned businesses
  • $2.5 million for operating support activities related to business development and assistance for minority-owned businesses
  • Nearly $126 million for the Empowering Enterprise Program (which makes up half of the budget target assigned to the Economic Development Finance and Policy committee) to be distributed among key partners. Of the $126 million, $62 million is appropriated to the City of Minneapolis; $22 million to the City of Saint Paul; $10.8 million for the Northside Economic Opportunity Network; another $10.8 million to the Midway Chamber of Commerce; and another $10.8 million to the Lake Street Council. 
Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-Minneapolis) chairs the Senate Jobs and Economic Development committee.

You can read the current version of HF 3028 here. Additional funding opportunities and investments are laid out in the bill. 

State Funding Has Been Absent for Three Years

Many have been calling on the Legislature to support rebuilding efforts since the last days of May 2020 when the uprising was still occurring after the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd. Despite efforts, however, the Legislature has yet to largely step up, which has left most of the funding efforts in the hands of local government, neighborhood associations, nonprofits, community development financial institution funds and philanthropic organizations like the Minneapolis Foundation, which has tried to collaborate with community organizations in making the work happen. 

“We wanted to make sure that we stood with the entrepreneurs,” former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, president of the Minneapolis Foundation, told “We have a ton more to do. And most importantly we didn’t make the decisions. It was a community-based process. And I hope that whatever comes out of the Legislature respects the fact that the community has been at the center of the decision-making.” 

Community leaders, business owners and city employees have also been critical of the Minnesota Legislature and its delayed efforts to provide rebuilding and revitalization funding to the impacted corridors in St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

“In disasters in the state in the past, there haven’t been as many barriers to resources as we’ve seen in the response to the unrest,” said Erik Hansen, director of economic policy and development for the City of Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development department. “I appreciate all the resources the state provides, but the valuation of the loss from the unrest and the amount of resources that have been there are not equal.” 

For every $3 of tax revenue that Minneapolis provides to the State of Minnesota, it receives only $1 of tax revenue back. 

“I’m optimistic. I think the leadership, on both sides of the aisle, are signaling that there needs to be resources. It just depends on what it is, where it comes, and what the rules are,” said Hansen. “If things don’t come through then [rebuilding] is just a lot slower.” 

At the time of publishing, House and Senate leaders are currently conferring around Senate File 3035. The Senate is represented by Senators Bobby Joe Champion (DFL–District 59, Minneapolis), Jennifer McEwen (DFL–District 8, Duluth) and Zaynab Mohamed (DFL–District 63, Minneapolis), as well as by suburban or outstate legislators Heather Gustafson (DFL–District 36, Vadnais Heights) and Grant Hauschild (DFL–District 3, Hermantown). 

The House is represented by Representatives Hodan Hassan (DFL–District 62B, Minneapolis) and Jay Xiong (DFL–District 67B, St. Paul), along with suburban or outstate legislators Kaela Berg (DFL–District 55B, Burnsville), Michael Nelson (DFL–District 38A, Brooklyn Park) and Liz Olson (DFL–District 8A, Duluth).

Next steps

The Legislature remains in session until May 22, though legislators can end early if the work is completed. Conference committees met throughout the first week of May, and some will continue to meet throughout this week, as legislators negotiate their bills. 

Community leaders and business owners are still urging folks to contact their legislators, though they would need to do so expeditiously.

Photo at top by mana5280 on Unsplash.