Franklin Energy Blog

Rebuilding Immigrant-Owned Businesses After Civil Unrest

Posted by Jean Bardeaux on July 19, 2021

Twenty years ago, Dawitt Assefa immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia. He started his first laundromat in 2011 and in 2019 opened HD Laundry along East Lake Street in South Minneapolis, just a few months before the pandemic took hold. Soon, the death of George Floyd sparked civil unrest along core business districts in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Riot Unrest 300Looters tore through HD Laundry on the first night of unrest. When Assefa came to assess the damage the next morning, he saw that it was substantial but figured his business would be salvageable. That night, the strip mall that houses HD Laundry went up in flames. It no longer mattered how salvageable the equipment was—everything Assefa had worked for was now gone.

This story is not an unfamiliar one. Many other Xcel Energy customers with businesses located in these impacted areas experienced similar destruction to their life’s work.

How Utilities Can Help Affected Small Businesses

It’s a situation like this when a utility’s purpose comes into focus—not just to provide energy services, but to help boost the community and improve the lives of those they serve. That’s why we partnered with Xcel Energy to launch the Rebate Recovery Program, a program specifically designed to help Assefa and those in similar situations. It started with no-cost damage assessment reports and included double rebates on energy-efficient equipment upgrades as businesses began to rebuild. Once we started raising awareness for the program, Centerpoint Energy contributed with triple rebates for their impacted customers as well.

Today, businesses like HD Laundry are reopening with new, state-of-the-art systems. They have received tens of thousands of dollars in rebates, allowing them to build back better—and greener—than ever before. So far, Xcel Energy has completed 37 damaged or destroyed building assessments and identified 1,682,682 kWh, 277 kW and 6,125 Therm savings through lighting, cooling, and control energy-saving opportunities.

As the nation comes together in support of equity and justice, local communities are banding together to support their members as well. We believe that utilities have a vital role to play in supporting their customers and helping move the nation forward together. To learn more about the Rebate Recovery Program and how your utility can support justice within the communities you serve, contact us today.

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