Polis Administration Receives Small Business Administration Award for Nation-Leading COVID Response & Relief Efforts

Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade receives SBA District Director’s Diamond Award in recognition of COVID relief programming

Today, the Polis Administration was recognized for Colorado’s nation-leading rapid-response to provide real relief to Coloradans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded the Business Support division at the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) with the District Director’s Diamond Award for their work acting quickly at the outset of the pandemic to establish an emergency business support hotline, connecting businesses with critical resources.

“Our administration continues to focus on providing effective and responsive support to Coloradans and our small businesses,” said Gov. Polis. “The Small Business Navigator hotline helped small businesses weather the pandemic, which led to Colorado having the fifth fastest recovery rate in the nation. I am proud that the state rose to the occasion to provide these critical resources to Colorado businesses during an uncertain time.”

From March 19, 2020 to September 17, 2021, the hotline received 4,500 calls from small businesses and their employees. The emergency hotline served as a resource for business owners to ask about available relief funds, application processes, eligibility, updates on changes to programs, advice to keep their business in operation, and provided general support during an impossibly challenging time for all.

The emergency business support hotline launched the week of March 16, 2020, and began with a group of ten OEDIT employees answering calls. The team grew to a network of over 70 volunteers from government, non-profit and private sector organizations, including business librarians and Small Business Development Center consultants from across Colorado to provide followup resources in more complicated cases. The hotline operated seven days a week for the first three months of the pandemic.

“During an emotionally taxing time, we found a way to support small business owners to access relief programs to keep their doors open,” said Nikki Maloney, a lead team member on the hotline and Interim Director of the Business Support division at OEDIT. “Our hotline team was essential in making business owners feel heard and getting them connected quickly to resources that might be the difference between going out of business or making it through a global pandemic.”

The team shifted to a cloud-based call center system to manage the increase in calls and the number of operators working on the hotline team. Maloney also sent daily email updates to all phone operators, so that clients would receive consistent and current information.

“Recognizing the Business Navigator Program as a “Diamond” Partner was long overdue,” said Frances Padilla, Small Business Administration Colorado District Office Director. “For more than two years, OEDIT’s Business Support team was on the front lines of helping Colorado small businesses through COVID-related challenges. They not only navigated SBA disaster resources, but also those of almost every federal, state and local program. Our small business community is indebted to them for assisting thousands of businesses in some of their darkest times. We congratulate them on their monumental efforts.”

Media is invited to attend the Small Business Administration Small Business Awards Ceremony on Friday, May 6, 2022 from 10:00am - 12:00pm MST at the Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St. The event, hosted by the City and County of Denver – Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO), will formally recognize all Colorado award winners. To attend, please RSVP to Grace Houser, grace.houser@state.co.us

To receive assistance from the Small Business Navigator to learn about starting and growing your business, call 720.665.7439 or send an email to oedit_sbnavigator@state.co.us.

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