Polis Administration Continues to Support Small Businesses in Colorado: OEDIT Awards 56 Access to Capital Grants

Benefitting women-, minority-, and Veteran-owned businesses across the state

Today, Governor Polis and the Business Support division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced that 56 grants have been awarded to small businesses in Colorado through the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program. These $5,000 grants will help small business owners across the state, from Morgan County to Alamosa County, implement financial practices that can help them secure loans and other forms of capital to grow their businesses. 

“I understand what it’s like to start and grow a business and we are thrilled to be able to provide this grant to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and veterans across Colorado,” said Governor Polis. “These exciting grants build upon our work boosting Colorado’s strong economy and supporting small businesses.”

Recipients were selected from more than 100 small business owners who completed an “Access to Capital” training developed as part of the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program created by SB21-241 sponsored by state Senators Rhonda Fields and Jeff Bridges, and state Representatives Naquetta Ricks and Lindsey Daugherty and implemented in partnership with the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network. 

“The Small Business Accelerated Growth Program is a great example of how we’re breaking down financial and accessibility barriers to starting or growing a business in Colorado,” said Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvarda, sponsor of SB21-241. “We know the demand is high for the Access to Capital training pathway because securing capital as a small, new business can be challenging. We’re pleased to see so many applicants for this program and congratulate the 56 recipients.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and critical drivers for our communities,” Senator Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, said. “By helping folks access the capital they need, we’re planting seeds that will help these small business owners expand their operations, grow our economy, and create good-paying jobs so that more Colorado families can thrive.”

“Small businesses represent the heart and soul of Colorado,” Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, said. “After a challenging few years, small business owners have certainly earned a helping hand when it comes to accessing resources and capital. I’m so pleased that the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program is up and running and that these critical resources are getting out the door and into our communities.”

“I’m pleased to join Governor Polis in congratulating the 56 small businesses who have received grants through the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program,” said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora, sponsor of SB21-241. “Uplifting our women, minority, veteran and immigrant-owned businesses is a top priority in Colorado, and it’s exciting to see the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program positively impacting and investing in these businesses across our state.”

“More than 95% of Colorado businesses are small businesses, and they employ nearly 50% of Colorado employees,” said OEDIT Executive Director Eve Lieberman. “When these small business owners can access the capital they need to grow and thrive, they bring valuable goods and services to their communities, create good jobs across the state and contribute to Colorado's strong economy.” 

A total of $280,000 has been distributed to 56 small business owners across the state as the first of two grant opportunities for participants of the Access to Capital training. Among the recipients, 58.9% identified as woman-owned and 44.6% identified as minority-owned, including 23.2% who reported as Black and/or African American and nearly 9% who identified as Hispanic and/or Latino. Approximately 12.5% identified as individuals having a disability and just over 5% identified as veteran-owned. 

Over a quarter of business owners came from rural communities, from Fort Morgan and Sterling on the Eastern plains to Alamosa in the San Luis Valley and the mountain town of Vail. The funds are intended to assist business owners with targeted areas of improvement utilizing approaches learned through the program, preparing them to apply for funding opportunities. 

“The funding from SB21-241 is an incredible opportunity for the Small Business Development Center Network to address one of the greatest barriers small businesses face, accessing capital. Our entrepreneurs are developing the knowledge and confidence needed to become lender ready,” said China Califf, Executive Director of the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center that helped implement the Access to Capital training program. 

In addition to the Access to Capital training pathway, the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program offers training on Market Research and implementing Digital Marketing strategies. All three pathways are free and combine online content with small-group learning and one-on-one consulting sessions facilitated by SBDC consultants. Small businesses that have operated in Colorado for more than one year and have fewer than 19 employees are eligible to participate, with preference given to those that are located in a state Opportunity Zone, Enterprise Zone, historically underutilized business zone, Rural Jump-start Zone, or a Tier One transition community. 

In addition to the 56 grants awarded to small business owners this month, an additional $1,070,000 in grant funding will be made available to future graduates of the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program. The funding for these grants has been set aside from the Colorado Startup Loan Fund, so that program participants may implement what they learn. The next two rounds of grants are expected to be awarded in March, including another 54 grants of $5,000 each to participants of the Access to Capital training pathway and 40 grants of $8,000 each to participants of the Market Research training pathway. 

“There is a tremendous demand for the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program and we are grateful to our legislative partners for allocating funding for the program and to our SBDC partners for their development of quality statewide resources. The foundational skills taught through these training pathways will assist businesses to secure capital, understand market opportunities, and refine their technique to connect with the customers who most benefit from their goods and services. We look forward to seeing what these business owners accomplish in coming months and years,” said Nikki Maloney, Director of OEDIT’s Business Support Division and Interim State Director of the Colorado SBDC Network. 

Interested businesses can learn more about the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program at https://oedit.colorado.gov/growth and sign up to receive email notifications as future rounds open for applications.

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