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State to Aid Damaged Baltimore Businesses

Maisha McCoy rushed into the auditorium of Morgan State University’s Murphy Fine Arts Center on Friday, June 5, carrying a manila folder, and she collapsed into a seat as she gasped for air.

She was among 30 people who had come to a state-sponsored summit for business owners who suffered losses when violence and looting erupted in Baltimore. The unrest was a reaction to 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody.

Four government agencies and private financial service providers were on hand to offer money and other solutions for recovery from physical damage and economic injury to local businesses. The Small Business Administration was offering companies loans up to $500,000 each to rebuild locations destroyed or financially ruined in recent events.

McCoy’s business, Breathe4Sure Pharmacy, which is located in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood where Gray lived, was looted several times on April 27 in the first wave of violence. McCoy said she had more than $100,000 in losses and sought an SBA loan at the business forum.

The SBA estimated there was nearly $9 million in total damages to businesses in the city.

Lexington Pharmacy, located across from the First Mariner Arena also was struck, literally by looters who took a bat to the store’s windows and front door.

"No known drugs were taken. There was less theft, more destruction," said Patricia Richardson, director of Lexington Pharmacy. “We got the doors fixed right away.”

Some business owners expressed concerns about the terms of the loans and repayment and questioned whether they could institute changes in their companies that they wanted to make before the disturbances.

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