It has now been nearly a month since the last chair dropped skiers and riders off at the top of the mountain. It is impossible to project the impact the closures and reduction in services COVID-19 will have on our community. Lost business revenues and sales tax are certain, but at what level, we can only guess.
From the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, local chamber executives, the county’s economic development coordinator and the Grand Foundation have worked tirelessly to help local businesses through these challenging times. From gathering business operation information and sharing it with the community to assisting business owners with the completion of loan applications, these community leaders took immediate steps and actions to help the community through what will probably always be the darkest time in our history.
Business Emergency Response Team (BERT)
The Business Emergency Recovery Team (BERT) is using the Work in Grand website to provide coordinated and comprehensive information about COVID-19 as well as resources for business owners, employees, and community members.
The site is a perfect platform to bring the community together during this trying time. Stay engaged with the latest community developments, subscribe to email resources and participate in virtual meetings. Learn more at workingrand.com.
Emergency Small Business Assistance Fund
Grand Foundation (GF) has established an Emergency Small Business Assistance Fund (the Fund) in response to community impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Grand County, CO. In a coordinated and collaborative effort, Grand Foundation will be the fiscal agent for this fund and is working closely with Grand County Commissioners, local towns, chambers and community stakeholders to provide grants for small businesses in need of relief. “During this time of need, it’s imperative we help protect the individuals in our county by ensuring that they have jobs to return to. These small businesses are the character and backbone of our communities in Grand County”, said Megan Ledin, GF Executive Director. Primary focus areas for this funding will include rental, mortgage and utility assistance.
The Winter Park and Fraser Chamber reallocated $100K in budgeted marketing and events funding to the Fund. “We have been working the past couple of weeks, trying to find as many ways to help our local businesses so they will be there on the other side when we open up and begin a new way of doing business,” said Executive Director Catherine Ross. Ross added that the Chamber also reallocated some staffing dollars to hire two business counselors to assist the local business community with completing loan and grant applications.
In a matter of days, the Fund raised $390K from the county and local municipalities, well ahead of many of neighboring counties. The Grand Foundation has also written seven applications for additional funding through sources such as Governor Polis’ Help Colorado Now program. Several local employers, including Freeport McMoran and Mountain Parks Electric, have also expressed interest in committing dollars to the Fund.
The Fund began accepting applications on April 3rd and on Tuesday, April 7th, the committee met to review the first round. According to Ledin, they had received 120 applications in 4 days and found 71 to be eligible. 49 of the businesses that submitted an application missed the requirement to include copies of bills and will likely resubmit for the next round.
In the first round of funding, the committee approved a total ask of $346,921, the majority of which will be utilized for mortgage, rent and utilities, but the committee also agreed that expenses for insurance premiums were eligible.
Ledin said that after the first round, they realized they needed to tweak the application to include the status of the applicant’s Emergency Injury Disaster and Payroll Protection Loans. Noting that funding could be weeks or even months out, she observed, “the immediate need is tremendous.”
Ledin says the committee is initially looking at a two-month lens – April/May or May/June, and the need for additional funding will be vital. “If this is one-third of the businesses out there, my goal is to go out there and get more funding,” she said.
The first round of funding went to the Grand Foundation Board for approval on Wednesday and checks were written that afternoon. Funds are not paid to the businesses, but instead sent directly to lenders, landlords, utilities, etc.
To learn more about the Emergency Small Business Assistance Fund, visit grandfoundation.com.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan
From the onset of the crisis, Grand County Economic Development Coordinator Diane Butler has been gathering and sharing information on financial assistance for local businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). All 64 Colorado counties have been advanced by Governor Jared Polis for inclusion in the US Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.
- Applicants must meet the SBA requirements of a small business (500 employees or fewer)
- Businesses directly affected by COVID-19
- Businesses that offer services directly related to the businesses in the declaration
- Other businesses indirectly related the industry that are likely to be harmed by losses in their community (Example: Manufacturer of widgets may be eligible as well as the wholesaler and retailer of the product)
More information, including the application link is available at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed changed the way most of us are doing business. In these times of uncertainty, we are grateful for the incredible leadership and support we have in our own backyard. #GrandCountyStrong