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Chris Montana’s Du Nord Craft Spirits faced double pain this year. The pandemic shut down his cocktail room and, just as he was getting ready to reopen, his business was severely damaged during the riots after George Floyd’s death.

What's next: Montana, the first Black owner of a distillery in the U.S., told Nick during the Smart Take event that he is pouring his energy into supporting Black and brown business owners as Lake Street rebuilds.

"We're trying ... to get more BIPOC owners out there into the community and visible in the community. So people can look up and say, 'You know what, that's not some distant business community. Those are our people.' So when when that anger blows over, it won't get directed at our business corridors. Instead, we'll go perhaps to a more constructive place, which is pushing for political change."

What's next: Montana's Du Nord Foundation has raised nearly $1 million to help minority small business owners hurt by the civil unrest. He's also working to build a business incubator for people of color and women.

  • Montana, who grew up on Lake Street, is looking for a space for a new distillery and cocktail room.

Go deeper.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Updated Feb 10, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: Small Business Recovery in Minneapolis

Axios Twin Cities reporters Torey Van Oot and Nick Halter hosted a virtual conversation on Black-owned businesses, PPP loans and the future of the economy in Minneapolis featuring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D - Minn.) and Du Nord Craft Spirits CEO and owner Chris Montana.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar discussed how the government should provide more help to Black and minority-owned businesses.

  • On pushing to include a venture capital proposal focusing on women and minorities in the next relief plan: "I'm actually leading an effort to make sure that we focus on women as well as minorities [in the next PPP stimulus package] to make sure that they're at the front of the line. When the next PPP money goes out, it's looking at [targeted] programs to encourage entrepreneurship."
  • On seeing a path forward for a $15 minimum wage: "I think the time has come. And so that's something that obviously is a priority for President Biden...We're in a place where we can get it done."

Chris Montana discussed his experience as a small business owner in Minneapolis and highlighted the importance of having institutions mirror the communities that they serve.

  • "I think that all of our institutions — government, business, social engagement — should all be reflective of the community. Our business community really isn't. And because kids like me grow up not seeing examples of people in boardrooms and law firms or distilleries, we don't know that's on our horizon. I think that that needs to change."

Axios Chief Revenue Officer Fabricio Drumond hosted a View from the Top segment with Facebook VP and Head of Scaled Solutions of Global Business Marketing Judy Toland, who discussed the economic impact of the pandemic on small businesses.

  • "The pandemic has not affected all small businesses equally. We've seen that Black-owned businesses are closing at twice the rate of others since the start of the pandemic. And when they are saying open, their sales are decreasing at a higher rate by a rate of 30%."

Thank you Facebook for sponsoring this event.

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

4 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.