Local agencies push cash to businesses during COVID-19 pandemic


  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
The response to aid local businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic storm resulted in 422 businesses and nonprofits receiving $5.43 million in grants and loans. That help, in turn, according to a Summit Economics study, propped up nearly 8,000 jobs, $757 million in annual economic output and $5.5 million in annual local sales tax revenue.

But it's a drop in the bucket when you consider there are 4,469 business described by researchers as "most at risk of closure" due to the virus, and represent 43,848 jobs, $4.8 billion in annual economic output and $33.8 million in local sales tax revenue annually.

Those most at risk include hotels, food service, arts/entertainment/recreation venues, doctors offices, personal services, and retail trade, except food and drug stores.

Still, Mayor John Suthers had positive words at a June 29 news conference for four organizations that mounted fundraising campaigns to help local businesses.

"I know I speak for Colorado Springs and the business community when I express gratitude to these four organizations," he said. Those are Exponential Impact’s Survive & Thrive, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Downtown Development Authority and El Paso County.

The Survive & Thrive program provides direct support through low-interest loans.

“Over 90 percent of storefront businesses Downtown are locally owned, and we proudly boast the largest concentration of locally owned restaurants in all of Southern Colorado," Susan Edmondson, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership, said in a release. "Our DDA [Downtown Development Authority] Small Business Relief grants helped 95 businesses during a critical time, and now it is up to everyone to continue patronizing independent restaurants and local retail shops, salons, fitness centers and more throughout the year.”

El Paso County Commission Chairperson Mark Waller said at the news briefing the county has spent $1.4 million on direct help to small businesses through supporting the Downtown Partnership, the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, and others. He also said the county plans to pump another $7.6 million directly into local businesses using money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The county received about $127.5 million from the CARES Act, and shared a good portion with towns and municipalities.

"I appreciate the way this community comes together, whether government, nonprofit, small business or individual," Waller said.

Read the study:
See related PDF SummitEconomicsStudy.pdf

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