County, municipal officials seed small business grants
It’s been a little over a week since restaurants closed to in-person dining and only a few days since Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reduced the in-person noncritical workforce, but Grand County is already working on a plan to help local businesses.
On Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to seed a Small Business Emergency Grant fund with $100,000 to help get local businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
The fund will be sponsored by the Grand Foundation and money will be awarded to local businesses via the various chambers of commerce to help make rent, utility or mortgage payments.
“It’s great to help our individuals, which we are addressing through the other emergency assistance fund, but we have to remember if they don’t have jobs to go back to, we’re just creating a cyclical problem,” said Megan Ledin, executive director of the Grand Foundation. “So we need to make sure there are businesses and employers that are open for these people to go back to.”
The commissioners said they had a $1 million goal for the fund with the money being raised through municipal contributions, potential grants and private donations.
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Granby agreed to give $50,000 to the fund at its town board meeting, while Winter Park chose to match the county’s funding at $100,000. Winter Park Mayor Jimmy Lahrman noted that a conservative estimate for business needs is around $900,000 for the county, and the council unanimously agreed to build up the fund as much as possible.
“We need to push the county to push their (funding) up and push each of the municipalities to push their numbers up because we’re not talking about small numbers (of businesses),” Lahrman said.
Winter Park Fraser Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Catherine Ross thanked the board for its generosity and noted the importance of the program on behalf of business owners.
“The chamber thinks this is very important and rises above some other priorities that we had set earlier when we set the budget, so thank you for … helping the business community,” Ross said.
While Fraser, Grand Lake and Kremmling have not yet designated how much each towns’ contribution might be, all three have expressed support for the grant program.
Ledin explained a committee, made up of members from each chamber and the Grand County Economic Development office, will review applications from local businesses and decide which businesses receive grants and how much.
“We don’t have criterias … right now,” Ledin said. “The committee needs to work through those guidelines.”
Contributions can be made directly to the Grand Foundation earmarked for the “Emergency Small Business Assistance Fund.”
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