Colorado small business fund to start taking applications

Colorado will begin taking applications for the Energize Colorado Gap Fund on Monday, a program meant to issue additional financial support to small businesses in the state that are struggling to survive the economic effects of the pandemic.

The fund, which is made up of about $25 million of CARES Act funding from the federal government, is meant to be dispersed to businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 25 employees. Businesses can apply for either or both a $15,000 forgivable grant or a $20,000 low-interest loan.

Funding is prioritized for businesses owned by women, veterans, minorities, businesses located in places with fewer than 50,000 residents and those who received $25,000 or less in Paycheck Protection Program dollars this year.

In a news conference Wednesday, Polis said the prioritization is meant to help businesses in the state that weren’t able to get as much support as they needed because they didn’t have as strong of a relationship with their financial institutions compared to others, which made it more difficult for them to get priority with the institution when it acted as an intermediary for the loan.

“This really helps fill in some of those holes,” he said.

The bill that created the fund was approved unanimously in both chambers of the state Legislature this year.

Kent Thiry, the chairman and former CEO of Denver-based dialysis giant DaVita Inc. (NYSE: DVA) and chair of the Gap Fund, said the group will meet daily to monitor a “yet unknown” amount of demand from businesses in the state to determine whether it may cause similar website timeouts that plagued the Small Business Administration’s PPP portal in the early days of the application window in April.

He said the first round of checks will be issued to approved applicants in four to six weeks.

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