Companies leaving Minneapolis after riots over the death of a black man in police custody are compounding the array of economic challenges facing the city as it rebuilds and repairs, business leaders say.
Manufacturer 7-Sigma Inc., for instance, is departing after four decades, taking 50 jobs, a loss that Minneapolis can ill afford as it joins the rest of the country in trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which fueled the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
The city's recovery from such losses and the violent protests that preceded them will be rendered even more challenging amid the fallout from COVID-19, the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce told FOX Business.
"It's a bad deal," Chamber CEO Jonathan Weinhagen said. "They are a part of the fabric of the private sector community."
The president and owner of the 7-Sigma, Kris Wyrobek, said he decided to leave after losing trust in public officials during the riots.
"They don't care about my business," Wyrobek told Star Tribune. "They didn't protect our people. We were all on our own."
7-Sigma is only one of more than 500 businesses damaged amid protests decrying racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death on May 25, when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while he was handcuffed.
Protests quickly spread from the city across the country as Americans watched video of Floyd's death in horror.
Due to the damage in Minneapolis, the city has already estimated over $500 million in losses, with more expected. And that's just the physical damage, Weinhagen cautioned. He expects thousands of jobs to be lost in "the near term."
To mitigate the losses, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has introduced the Minneapolis Forward: Community Now Coalition, which will work to accelerate repair and recovery efforts.
Although Weinhagen says there's a lot of repair work to do, he cautioned that the city needs to "rebuild right, with the community in focus."
"How does our recovery become a beacon for our community at large, businesses and city," he asked. The solution, he added, must go beyond just restoring the community to making it better, including the "built environment."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.