The Community Business Preservation Program provides grants, as well as training and consultation support, to groups of geographically proximate and culturally similar businesses that are facing displacement pressures and that hold cultural, social, or historical significance in Colorado. Specifically, this program will provide:
- Grants of $10,000 to $50,000 per business in a selected community.
- Training and consultation support tailored to each business’ unique needs. This program is intended to help Colorado communities preserve the businesses that make them unique and are important to their residents.
OEDIT will undertake a competitive application process and ultimately select five to seven main streets, corridors, or otherwise geographically proximate groups of businesses and then provide grants and technical assistance to two to six businesses within each of those communities. To apply for this competitive grant, the groups of businesses must collaborate with a local sponsoring entity (e.g., local government, economic development organization, business improvement district, community-based nonprofit) to manage the application and review process, as well as any potential award. The local sponsoring entities whose communities are ultimately selected will also be provided a small grant to support their capacity to assist in this grant process. Applications will open in mid-September and close in mid-January.
Type: Grant, training and consultation
For: Small Businesses & Economic Development Organizations
Amount: $10,000 - $50,000
Application period: September 22, 2023 - January 19, 2024
OEDIT division: Business Funding & Incentives
- Must be a business registered and in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State.
- Primary business location must be in the State of Colorado.
- Must not be a franchise.
- Must have been fully operational on or prior to September 22, 2021. This can include the restarting or revamping of a business that was in existence prior to September 22, 2021.
Eligible Sponsoring Entities:
- Must be a nonprofit organization that has been granted IRS tax-exempt status or a government entity.
- Must be in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State, unless a government entity.
- Must be able to serve as the fiscal agent and to distribute funds to the awarded businesses.
- Must have at least one part-time or full-time paid employee.
Ineligible Sponsoring Entities:
- Religious organizations, organizations with greater than 15% of budget spent on political advocacy and/or lobbying, and organizations based outside of Colorado.
To apply for this program, interested groups of businesses must collaborate with a local sponsoring entity (e.g., local government, economic development organization, business improvement district, community-based nonprofit) to manage the application and review process, as well as any potential award. In effect, this means that within a given community two to six businesses can form a group and then identify a local sponsoring entity to collaborate with, or a local sponsoring entity can identify two to six businesses and form the group itself. The sponsoring entity and the two to six businesses will complete a single application.
The application and criteria are based around how:
- The applicant community’s location and offerings are culturally, socially, and/or historically significant to Colorado as a whole and/or to the community’s residents;
- Each of the applicant businesses contributes to the community’s cultural, social, or historical significance, which – in turn – drives economic impact; and
- The applicant community and businesses face destabilizing pressures that threaten the cultural legacy of the community.
Communities whose businesses are located in one or more of the following designated areas will be given additional consideration:
- HUBZone: Review the interactive HUBZone Map
- Tier One Coal Transition Community: Morgan County, Pueblo County, West End of Montrose County (Towns of Nucla and Naturita, as well as Norwood in San Miguel County), and the Yampa Valley (Rio Blanco, Moffat, and Routt Counties)
- Rural Jump-Start Zone: Counties of Alamosa, Archuleta, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Clear Creek, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Custer, Delta, Dolores, Fremont, Garfield, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Jackson, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lake, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Otero, Phillips, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Routt, Saguache, San Juan, Sedgwick, Washington, and Yuma
- Enterprise Zone: Review the interactive Enterprise Zone Map
- Opportunity Zone: Review the interactive Opportunity Zone Map
Application questions will be broad enough to allow the communities themselves to deem what is culturally significant to their community’s residents. In addition, the applicant will be required to demonstrate broad community support and propose uses for how the grant funds will be spent.
To assist sponsoring entities and businesses applying to this program, OEDIT will host informational sessions and office hours. You can register for October’s informational sessions below, and please note that more will be made available in later months:
The Community Business Preservation Program Review Committee will include:
- At least two representatives from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT);
- At least one representative from another State agency (e.g., Colorado Department of Local Affairs, History Colorado); and
- At least one representative from a relevant external organization.
The Review Committee will evaluate and rank all applications based on the responses to application questions and the review criteria before making award recommendations to OEDIT. The Review Committee and OEDIT have the discretion to request a brief, virtual presentation by applicant communities if deemed necessary.
The Review Committee will also consider geographic and cultural equity to support diverse communities across the State when finalizing award recommendations. The final group of awards should include at least one community from west of the continental divide and at least one community from a predominantly rural area on the eastern slope.
OEDIT staff will report the Review Committee’s recommendations, as well as any additional considerations regarding the application and review process, to the Colorado Economic Development Commission, which will provide final approval of awardees.
Award amounts will be based on the availability of funds and a list of proposed uses for each applicant's grant award request within a range of $10,000-$50,000 (for a total number of awards between 10-42). OEDIT and the Review Committee have the discretion to partially fund a request.
- Friday, September 22, 2023 - Application Opens
- Friday, January 19, 2024 - Application Closes
- January & February 2024 - Application Review
- March 2024 - Award Announcements
- April 2024 - April 2026 - Award Distribution & Funding Period (***funding period may be a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 2 years, depending on the community)
Each applicant business will be required to propose categories of potential uses and associated cost estimates for the grant funds in the application, and then more defined uses will be agreed upon by the applicant and OEDIT in the award process. Proposed uses should be one-time expenses, not everyday operating expenses (see exception immediately below). Some examples of proposed uses include infrastructure and facade improvements, technology, energy efficiency, or building code upgrades, permitting or licensing fees, and hired contract work.
***In some instances, OEDIT may approve businesses that have recurring expenses or need working capital. In these instances, the award distribution for that business may be delayed until the business completes all or some portion of the required training and consultation support (under the Training & Consultation Support Section) to optimize the business’ long-term viability.
- Any expense not considered an eligible expense by IRS rules
- Wages to any member of the organization's principal officers, board or family who is not a bona fide employee
- Charitable or pass-through contributions
- Political contributions and political activities
- Lobbying activities
- Draw or salary to employees that exceeded the amount they were paid on a weekly or monthly basis for the same period last year
- Pay down or pay off debt by more than required in underlying debt instrument.
- Expenses that were previously paid
- Food (except for official functions)
- Gifts, donations, or sponsorships
- Employee bonuses
- Airfare upgrades
- Late fees
- Expenses that are unrelated to your scope of work
The CP Review Committee and OEDIT have the discretion to partially fund a request versus disqualifying an application or individual business if an item in an applicant business’ proposed uses is ineligible.
As part of the program, grant recipient business owners will receive consultant support, business development, and wraparound services. The goals of this aspect of the program are to increase the chance of success for the business, while maximizing the positive impact of the grant funding with additional support.
The exact technical assistance programming, including the length of the programming, will vary, depending on the needs of the individual businesses and the community as a whole being awarded. At a minimum, the programming could last for six months, and at a maximum it could last for two years. Substantively, the programming will include an initial period of onboarding and goal setting, a period dedicated to structured learning (via group webinars, workshops, meetups, and/or one-on-one consultant sessions); and a wrap-up period for post-program review and analysis.
All business participants will work with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, which includes a variety of business resources, on the technical assistance programming. Again, depending on the businesses’ individual needs, awardees will be required to meet with SBDC consultants periodically over the course of the programming period both one-on-one and as a group of businesses within their community. Group sessions will be focused on how the community’s businesses can work together to preserve their community’s culture and to foster cross-business collaboration, support, and peer advising, and the individual sessions will cover a variety of tailored topics.
- Transparency: The community name, businesses’ names, and grant amounts for communities that are awarded will be made publicly available.
- Training & Consultation Support: Communities that are awarded funding must participate in the required training and consultation support as described under the Training & Consultation Support section.
- Tracking of Community Metrics: Communities that are awarded funding must agree to provide information on impact metrics agreed upon by the applicant and OEDIT in the award process both at the beginning of the funding period and at the end of the funding period. Some examples of potential metrics include businesses’ average sales, businesses’ number of clients served, businesses’ employee numbers, visitors to the community, etc.
- Final Report: Communities that are awarded funding must provide a close-out report to OEDIT including information on their use of grant funds.
- Use of Funds: During the funding period, if communities that are awarded funding wish to use the funds for a purpose other than what is agreed upon by the applicant and OEDIT in the award process, they must discuss the proposal with OEDIT beforehand. If the communities that are awarded funding use the funds for an ineligible cost or a purpose other than what is described in the application, OEDIT has the discretion to require that the funds be returned to OEDIT.