Today, the Business Funding & Incentives division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced the Community Business Preservation Program to help Colorado communities preserve the characteristics that make them unique. Grants paired with training will support Colorado’s legacy businesses that hold cultural, social, or historical significance in the state.
“Through our work with small businesses across the state, we recognize that Colorado communities are working hard to adapt to economic changes while maintaining their cultural values and identities. By working with regional business communities to evolve while also protecting what makes them unique, the Community Business Preservation Program will help preserve the diversity of Colorado’s communities and build a Colorado economy that works for everyone,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT Executive Director.
The program has been designed to foster collaborative approaches to community preservation by awarding funding to groups of businesses working together to respond to changes in their communities. Through a competitive application process, OEDIT will select five to seven main streets, culturally-connected neighborhoods, districts, regions, or other geographically proximate groups of businesses for grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. The funding will be paired with up to two years of training and consultation support tailored to the needs of each business in that community.
To apply for this competitive grant, a cohort of two to six businesses must collaborate with a local sponsoring entity such as a local government, economic development organization, business improvement district, or community-based nonprofit to manage the application and review process as well as any potential award. The idea is to allow communities to identify what business sectors and characteristics they most want to preserve and support them in taking steps to do so.
“A community in rural eastern Colorado may be looking for a way to boost and preserve agricultural heritage businesses, while businesses in an urban neighborhood may be responding to changes brought by destabilizing pressures and COVID-related impacts. This program is meant to be adaptable to fit the needs of those who are applying for the grant so they can respond to changes in their communities and continue to thrive,” said Jeff Kraft, Deputy Director of OEDIT and Director of Business Funding & Incentives.
The Community Business Preservation Program grew out of discussions with legislators throughout the implementation of small business support programs, which shed light on the challenges faced by many of Colorado’s most beloved businesses.
“Small businesses build and maintain the character of communities like Five Points and Montbello. When we ensure that Colorado’s small businesses have the tools they need to stay in their communities, we uplift the quality of life for everyone,” said State Senator James Coleman. "I’m happy to see new resources prioritized to help address the barriers to prosperity that communities in Denver and across Colorado have faced for decades.”
OEDIT will implement the Community Business Preservation Program in partnership with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network and Energize Colorado. Applications are open now through January 2024. To assist sponsoring entities and businesses applying to the program, OEDIT will host informational sessions and office hours.
Businesses can register for the following online informational sessions in October, with more dates to come later this year:
- Wednesday, October 11, 2023 12:00-1:00PM - Register here
- Monday, October 30, 2023 2:00-3:00PM - Register here
Learn more about the Community Business Preservation Program at https://oedit.colorado.gov/programs-and-funding/grants/community-business-preservation-program.