AURORA, IL — Business groups in Aurora have united to launch a relief fund for businesses that were damaged or looted during the city’s recent protests calling for police reform and an end to police brutality against black people.
The “Restore Aurora Business Relief Fund” was quickly set up over the past week by Invest Aurora, the Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce, the Aurora Hispanic Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.
After seeing the extent of the damage, the four business-advocacy groups “decided to come together as one Aurora to be able to serve our businesses” by launching the Restore fund, Jessica Linder-Gallo told the Aurora City Council on Wednesday during its online meeting.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has said the damage to buildings May 31-June 1 totaled more than $3 million.
The fund is meant to help businesses pay for any type of damage or repairs that are not covered by their insurance policies, like plywood, paint and other supplies. The fund will not be able to distribute money to offset lost revenues or wages that resulted from looting or damage, said Bryan Gay, president and CEO of Invest Aurora.
Invest Aurora and the city’s three chambers of commerce are soliciting donations to the Restore fund and are planning to launch an online application in the coming days for businesses to seek funding. Invest Aurora has pledged to match the first $5,000 in donations to the fund, and Aurora-based Scientel Solutions has pledged to match the next $10,000, Gay told the City Council.
“We’re just … trying to do as much good as possible to help our businesses get reopened and moving past this,” Gay said.
Businesses in Aurora and North Aurora seeking funding must complete an application detailing the damage and provide a copy of a police report, Gay said.
Karina Garcia, president and CEO of the Aurora Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said officials are working to make sure businesses can easily apply and receive assistance.
“We understand the difficulty businesses are facing, which is why it is so important that we make the application process as simple as possible for business owners,” Garcia said. “Our goal is to distribute grants to damaged businesses as efficiently as possible to help get them through this difficult time.”
Aurora Ald. Sherman Jenkins, who also serves as chairman of the Quad County African American Chamber of Commerce, praised the city’s business community for quickly uniting to support businesses, many of which were already struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Business development resurgence after the recent civil unrest must be met by Aurora’s joint business community using a concerted, coordinated effort to make Aurora Strong a reality and not just a slogan,” Jenkins said.