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County allocates funds to business, nonprofit grants


Last updated 8/19/2020 at 5:19pm

El Paso County officials hope to help local small businesses and nonprofits with a new multi-million-dollar Regional Business Relief Fund program. This Fund will act as a competitive grant application process to assist small businesses and nonprofits with business-related costs incurred due to the COVID-19 economic disruption. 

The county will be allocating CARES Act funds to the Regional Business Relief Fund program, which will be facilitated by the county's Department of Economic Development, in partnership with Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF), a nonprofit lender certified by the SBA. This newest grant program is intended to provide tangible assistance to local businesses and nonprofits adversely affected by the pandemic, as El Paso County continues to focus on its COVID-19 response, recovery, and resiliency efforts.

The funds under the El Paso County Regional Business Relief Fund program will be awarded as a grant rather than a loan and will not have to be repaid by recipients. El Paso County businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees can apply to receive a grant of up to $20,000, which can be used to pay for expenses and economic hardship due to COVID-19. Funds can be used to cover costs such as rent and mortgage, utilities, employee payroll, accounts payable, and other fixed debt costs, as well as personal protection equipment. Funds cannot be used for taxes or tax debt.

"Making these funds available as grants instead of loans was of top importance to the county when designing the Regional Business Relief Fund Program," said Economic Development Executive Director, Crystal LaTier. "The county knows how much our local businesses and nonprofits are struggling financially, and we wanted to provide a debt-free solution. We hope that applicants find comfort knowing they can take advantage of these grants without adding to their stress and debt in the process."

The application process will open on August 12, 2020, at 8:00 AM and will remain open through Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. Applications can be submitted online via the CEF website, Applicants can find much more information on eligibility requirements on the website linked above, as well as a comprehensive list of FAQs and other information on the El Paso County Regional Business Relief Fund program.

Fully completed and submitted applications will be evaluated after the application window closes on Sept. 7 at 5 p.m. Each fully completed and submitted application will be thoroughly evaluated by an initial team of two Colorado Enterprise Fund evaluators, who then send the applications and their scores to the El Paso County Economic Development Oversight Committee. This committee then evaluates the scores to determine the award amount.

All applications will be initially evaluated by a team of objective analysts, then results of these scores will be sent to the El Paso County Economic Development Oversight Committee. This Committee, consisting of economic development and finance professionals, will evaluate the scores to determine the award amount.

Grant Details & Eligibility: 

Grant amounts will be up to $20,000 and do not need to be repaid.

Eligible grant uses include business-related costs incurred due to the COVID-19 economic disruption like: 

Rent/mortgage/utility payments, employee payroll, accounts payable and other fixed debt costs, personal protection equipment (PPE), and other.

Grant funds are not to be used for any payment of taxes or tax debt.

Upon the closure of the application period, CEF will provide scoring results to the El Paso County Economic Development Oversight Committee who will then evaluate the scores to determine the grantees and amount of grant awards, as well as administer the distribution of funds via check.  

The following list defines eligibility requirements:

Small businesses structured as: Partnership; Corporation; Limited Partnership; Limited Liability Entity; Sole Proprietors; and, Independent Contractors

Nonprofits (501c3 ONLY) – Grant funds may only be used for business operations and not direct client services.

Small businesses, regardless of industry type, must have less than 500 employees, including part-time workers (excluding 1099 contracted workers)

Located in El Paso County

Business activities are legal under Colorado AND Federal law

Applicant business is currently operating

Applicant business was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Applicant business and business owner do not have any outstanding judgments, tax liens, or pending lawsuits against them

The business has all required licenses and registrations to operate

Applicant business and/or nonprofit organization has hiring practices that are free from discrimination, and hiring practices do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, disability or other handicaps, age, marital status, or status concerning public assistance.

Fountain businesses may apply for grants from the county AND the city.

Although the city and county share applicant information with each other, obtaining a grant from one does not preclude a grant from the other.

"Whether an applicant has received funding from another municipality (such as, for example, the city of Fountain), they are not disqualified or ineligible for funding from the Regional Business Relief Fund," said Cory Arcarese, community lending advisor for the Colorado Enterprise Fund. "The collaboration between municipalities and the county exists to ensure that the expenses of which an applicant has identified within their application – that they anticipate allocating a grant award to – are not the same for both applications to the city grant and to our grant at the county."

A CEF representative explained this further in a webinar on the subject: "If someone applies for funding from the city of Fountain and says they are allocating $XXX to June payroll, then they are not allowed to submit that same request on our grant. They must show a different allocation for that funding – such as for September's rent."


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