DENVER – The state of Colorado and city of Denver both on Thursday announced initial economic relief packages to try to help businesses and workers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday that the Small Business Administration had granted disaster relief for small business loans in Colorado under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – something he had said he was seeking from the federal government in recent days.
The approval will allow small businesses, nonprofits, agricultural cooperatives and aquaculture enterprises affected by the virus outbreak to seek up to $2 million in low-interest federal loans to pay for debts, payroll and accounts payable, the state said.
“Local small businesses are bearing the brunt of that impact and facing a severe decline in customer traffic,” Dan Nordberg, the SBA Regional Administrator, said in a statement. “SBA’s top priority is to assist businesses adversely impacted by the Coroanvirus (COVID-19) and our Economic Injury Disaster Loans can be the working capital lifelines they need to weather this difficult time.”
The loan money was approved when the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was approved by Congress.
More information on eligibility, applications for loans and other resources are available at ChooseColorado.com.
“The economic impact of COVID-19 has been felt across out state. We are committed to protecting public health and safety and will continue fighting to ensure the pain that Colorado’s small businesses are feeling is limited,” Polis said in a statement. “This critical designation allows small businesses in all 64 Colorado counties to seek federal recovery loans that can help them through this challenging time. I thank the Colorado federal delegation for their efforts to help unlock this assistance.”
Denver announces $4M initial relief fund
Also Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city was creating an initial relief fund of $4 million to try to help small businesses affected by the outbreak.
The Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) will have a program to give qualifying businesses cash grants of up to $7,500 – with prioritization given to the most-impacted industries, like the restaurant industry.
An already-existing microloan program will be refocused toward small business stabilization, and businesses that already receive loans from DEDO can temporarily defer loan payments if needed, the city said.
The cash grants and microloan fund will be distributed through the city in conjunction with the Downtown Denver Partnership and Mile High United Way.
Additionally, grants of up to $1,000 will be available for individual artists living in Denver who are being affected through the IMAGINE 2020 Artist Assistance Fund by Denver Arts and Venues.
Artists who are eligible for the grant money can use it for recouping losses, travel expenses, offsetting loss of income for teachers. Lower-income artists or those who have no other source of income will be prioritized, the city said.
The Denver Department of Finance will waive the 15% penalty for late payments of February and March sales, use and occupational privilege taxes due this month and next month.
Parking enforcement is generally being suspended for the next 30 days as well, the city said.
For more information on the Denver programs, click here.
The city says DEDO will be working with the state for next steps regarding the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans as well.
“I know and believe in my heart that we’ll get to the other side of this by working together,” Hancock said in an afternoon news conference. “Our goal is to preserve people’s jobs by supporting our businesses so they can support their employees. …. Remain calm, remain patient, be generous with your time and resources.”