Colorado General Assembly provides lifeline for struggling businesses and individuals

By Esteban Fernandez

Dec 3, 2020 | News | 0 comments

//Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate on July 16, 2020, citing growing COVID-19 cases in Colorado. Photo by Esteban Fernandez | sovereign73811b@gmail.com

Colorado’s lawmakers are doing what they can to help minority-owned businesses through the winter. Four million dollars will be appropriated out of the general fund to help support these businesses struggling in the wake of the pandemic. The money is part of a $57 million relief bill passed by the Colorado General Assembly during the special session that aims to provide direct support to small businesses as well as aid entertainment venues and the arts. 

“Forty-one percent of black-owned businesses did not receive [Paycheck Protection Program],” said Colorado House Rep. Leslie Herod. “Forty one percent. More than double their white counterparts.”

Minority-owned businesses were disproportionately affected by lack of stimulus dollars entering their communities.

The bill was one of 10 passed by the state legislature to help Coloradans through a holiday season awash in  COVID-19 cases. Among other items passed was housing relief, utility assistance, childcare, remote learning, tax relief and food security. 

The $4 million will be distributed by the Minority Business Office, which is a part of the Colorado Office of Economic Development. The money can be used to provide direct relief payments, grants and loans as well as technical assistance and guidance for minority business owners. The idea is to provide relief to any minority-owned business that was shut out from any federal loans or grants provided by the CARES act back in the spring. It’s unclear if this will apply to businesses that cater to sexual health products. The federal loan program previously shut out businesses of a “prurient nature” from receiving funds.  

The bill’s legislative declaration notes that women-owned businesses have been among those most hurt by the pandemic. However, within the section of the bill dedicated to minority-owned businesses, there is no explicit mention of aid specifically for women-owned businesses. Furthermore, there is no mention of specific aid for those businesses throughout the entire piece of legislation. 

The program ends Dec. 31, 2022. 

Check out Esteban’s latest article about Denver’s sweep of the homeless encampment on Arkins Court here


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