The Denver City Council voted Monday to double its investment in small business grants for places impacted by the pandemic.
The council added $5 million to a total $10 million contract with Mile High of the United Way. The non-profit will distribute grants of up to $15,000 each. The money can be used to offset losses, pay rent, improve security, reconsider strategy and more. Businesses at risk of imminent displacement will be given priority.
The grants will “encourage the development of a quality workforce and career pathways that
support the health and wellbeing of workers including conversion to employee ownership models as well as support to businesses considering or already pivoted to new business models that address long-term consumer behavior changes.”
Technical assistance also provided
Technical assistance will be provided with the grants including lease negotiations and eviction prevention, financial assistance readiness, safety measures, and managing business disruptions such as pandemics. Help will also be available with the application process.
Travel, tourism, hospitality impacted
Businesses in the travel, tourism or hospitality sectors can apply for the grants. Businesses not in those fields must be identified as having experienced at least 8 % employment loss from pre-pandemic levels.
To qualify as a small business, annual income must be low $5 million. The businesses also must be legal under federal law, which eliminates the cannabis industry.
The program is expected to support up to 300 businesses. So far, 300 businesses have already been assisted with more than $4.1 million disbursed. Sixty-one percent of grant recipients had five employees or fewer. Almost half of assisted businesses have owners who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color.