Helping Community Businesses Thrive: Governor Polis and OEDIT Announce 11 Grants to Support 58 Small Businesses

DENVER – Today, Governor Polis and the Business Funding & Incentives division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced 11 Community Business Preservation grants to support community businesses and retain jobs across the state. These grants will be paired with training and consultation for 58 unique, independently-owned small businesses in Colorado that are culturally, socially, or historically significant and serve their communities in meaningful ways.

“Colorado’s small businesses are a cornerstone of our unique communities. It is important to support culturally significant small businesses because they serve as gathering places for different generations and community landmarks. I look forward to seeing how these grants help drive small business, support good paying jobs, and enhance the Colorado we love,” said Governor Jared Polis

The Community Business Preservation Program fosters community preservation by awarding funding to groups of businesses that reflect the unique identities of their communities and are working together to respond to changes. The recipients announced today include rural businesses as well as BIPOC-, LGBTQ+ and immigrant-owned businesses. They support a wide variety of needs in their communities, including ongoing financial impacts from the pandemic, rising rents or property taxes, recovery from disaster events including fires, and neighborhood destabilization.

Collectively, these businesses provide important services to their communities, including the preservation of the local history and heritage, the provision of culturally-relevant foods and services to migrant communities, the promotion of tourism and visitation, and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ+ communities. Through funding and guidance, the Community Business Preservation Program will help these recipients upgrade or purchase new equipment to increase efficiency and expand into new markets, make much-needed building improvements, and in some cases cover relocation costs to respond to rising rents and/or disasters such as fires.

“So often, small businesses reflect and preserve the diversity and cultural traditions of their communities. We’re pleased to be able to distribute these grants to businesses across the state, who are collectively working to preserve what makes Colorado communities unique and a great state to live, work, visit, raise a family, and retire,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT Executive Director.

Three of the recipient groups come from coal transition communities, six are in rural communities, and 57 of the 58 businesses represented are located in one or more areas prioritized by Colorado for economic development support, such as Rural Jump-Start Zones, Enterprise Zones, and Coal Transition Communities. OEDIT is partnering with Energize Colorado to administer the program, utilizing their small business resilience tools, and the Colorado Small Business Development Center Network will be providing up to two years of training and consultation tailored to the needs of each business.

The idea for the program grew out of conversations with Senator James Coleman and community businesses and leaders who noted some of the lasting economic pressures created by the pandemic.

“Legacy businesses in my district have been feeling the long term impacts of the pandemic, and they are not alone. These are unique, independent businesses that hold the legacies and stories of their communities, and these grants create an opportunity for them to respond to changes in a meaningful way,” said Sen. James Coleman.

Each group of businesses is collaborating with a local sponsoring entity such as a local government, economic development organization, business improvement district, or community-based nonprofit. These sponsoring entities, which have a demonstrated history of supporting their local business communities, guided applicants through the application process, and will provide support throughout the life of the award. On Thursday, March 21, the Colorado Economic Development Commission approve a total of $1,781,300 to be distributed to the cohorts, with individual businesses receiving $10,000-$30,000 and each sponsoring entity receiving $10,000:

Aurora - $190,000
Six African immigrant-owned businesses that provide culturally-aware services and products to the local immigrant community: Affectionate Transition Agency, Express Wireless, Gihon International Market, Guaranteed Care Services, KW Global Market, and Zonyadeh. Sponsoring entity: Global Refugee Solutions.

Brush Main Street - $187,000 
Six businesses located in Brush's designated Main Street District that serve as the exclusive providers of their respective goods or services in the community: Center for Healing Trauma and Attachment, Consultants for Children, Corral Sports Bar & Grill, Sher’s Tax & Accounting/A.R.M.S. Building, Sands Theater, and Slavinka Cafe. Sponsoring entity: Brush Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Cortez - $179,000
Six women-owned or managed retail businesses with family ties to Montezuma County and Cortez are committed to supporting local artisans and products as well as giving back to the local community: High Desert Life Outdoors, Love On A Hanger, Merriweather Home & Market, Notah Dineh Trading Company, Turquoise Raven Art Gallery, and Zu Gallery. Sponsoring entity: City of Cortez.

Downtown Colorado Springs Creative District - $182,000
Six businesses in the Downtown Colorado Springs Creative District represent over 75 years of investment in the creative economy of Downtown Colorado Springs, three of which are LGBTQ+-owned: Auric Gallery, Bosky Studios, ICONS, Ladyfingers Letterpress, Shuga’s Restaurant & Bar, and Yobel. Sponsoring entity: Downtown Ventures.

Five Points Alive - $190,000
Six Black-owned businesses committed to the revitalization and cultural preservation of Denver's historic Five Points district: Agave Shore, Green Spaces, Spangalang Brewery, TeaLee’s Tea House & Bookstore, Urban Sanctuary, and Welton Street Cafe. Sponsoring entity: AYA Foundation.

Gunnison - $130,000
Four Hispanic-owned businesses well-respected by the wider Gunnison Valley community also provide some of the first touchpoints for Spanish speakers moving to the valley: Agave Family Mexican Restaurant, CJMTZ Painting, D’Luna Mexican Store, and El Paraiso Family Mexican Restaurant. Sponsoring entity: Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning.

Downtown Pueblo - $130,000 
Four businesses owned by native Puebloans are coming together to provide a voice for local business owners, support beautification projects and spotlight the downtown and riverwalk area of Pueblo: Bojon Bro’s, Olde Towne Carriage House, The Gold Dust Saloon, and The Walter Brewing Company. Sponsoring entity: Southern Colorado Economic Development District.

Downtown Sterling - $130,000 
Four businesses located in Sterling's designated Historic and Creative Districts that represent key elements of the history of Logan County and serve as a magnet for visitors to downtown Sterling: Fox 5 Theater, Karyn’s Western Decor and Fashion, KC’s Music and Electronics, and Sweetly Vintage. Sponsoring entity: Logan County Economic Development Corp.

Southeast Colorado Springs - $190,000 
Six businesses in downtown Colorado Springs and Pueblo are committed to improving the overall health of individuals through the services such as healthy food, clean living spaces, protecting cultural customs and access to childcare: A Fresh Move, Felipes 109, Leave It At Your Door, Luxe Daiquiri Lounge, The Lighthouse Early Childcare and Education Corporation, and Viva Marketing and Consulting. Sponsoring entity: The Thrive Network.

Yampa Valley - $160,000
Five agricultural producers in the rural communities of Routt and Moffat counties are working together to preserve local agricultural practices and traditions: Fetcher Ranch, Moon Hill Dairy, Mountain Bluebird Farm, Murr Made Meats, and Snowden Meats. Sponsoring entity: Community Agriculture Alliance.

Westwood - $104,300
Five Latinx-owned businesses in the Westwood neighborhood of Denver whose owners and employees are committed to preserving the cultural roots of the community they serve while staying in Westwood: Bule Bule Neveria y Malteadas, Celebrate the Cake, Kahlo’s Mexican Restaurant, Panaderia Jarocho, and Westwood Warehouse/Unit E Productions. Sponsoring entity: BuCu West.

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