4 federal resources to help local businesses through the pandemic

People are seen walking along Breckenridge Main Street on April 8.
Photo by Tripp Fay

Restrictions such as the 6-foot physical distancing rule, mask mandate and capacity limitations are likely to remain in the county’s new local public health order, which is expected to be approved Thursday.

Measures like these are hard on businesses, which have been jockeyed around since the start of the pandemic.

TJ Messerschmitt, owner of Fatty’s Pizzeria and president of the Breckenridge Restaurant Association, said capacity restrictions impact a company’s bottom line.

“If you can’t seat those people, you can’t make the revenue that (you) were projecting to make and what you made in previous years,” Messerschmitt said.

There are a few federal programs that offer financial aid and resources to help business owners pull through tough times, such as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, and the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

“I strongly encourage every small business to go after every local, state and federal dollar that they can,” said Blair McGary, executive director of the Summit Chamber of Commerce.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

As part of the most recent stimulus package, also called the American Rescue Plan Act, this federal fund “will provide $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants and bars in need,” according to the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade.

The grants will be made based on lost revenue.

Eligible establishments include most bars and restaurants, like lounges, taverns, food trucks, caterers, tasting rooms and more.

The funds can be used to pay for expenses incurred between February 2020 and December 2021. Expenses include utilities, rent payments, payroll costs, paid sick leave and more.

According to the state’s website, this program was supposed to open in early April but is not yet available. Visit the Small Business Administration’s website at SBA.gov and click on “COVID-19 relief options” to learn more.

Shuttered Venue Operator’s Grant

According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development, “the program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues,” and is administered through the Small Business Administration.

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. Two billion dollars are reserved for eligible businesses with up to 50 full-time employees.

Applications for the program were originally supposed to open on April 8, but an email from the Summit Chamber said that date was delayed due to technical difficulties.

Until the application process opens, business owners can register for an account at SBA.gov by clicking on “COVID-19 relief options” and then selecting the appropriate grant.

Paycheck Protection Program

One of the most noteworthy programs since the pandemic started, the Small Business Administration continues to offer Paycheck Protection Program funding until May 31. The Summit Chamber’s email stated that business owners who were turned down for the loan by a bank “should try again because of the recent changes.”

To apply for this second round, business owners should have used their funds from the first round. The email stated that owners do not need to have had the first round of their loan forgiven.

For more information, visit SBA.gov and click on “COVID-19 relief options.”

Economic Injury Disaster Loans

The Small Business Administration recently raised the loan limit for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program to up to 24 months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. The loan should be used for working capital and normal operating expenses like continuation of health care benefits and fixed debt payments.

For more information, visit SBA.gov and click on “COVID-19 relief options.”

For more information about resources for small businesses, visit OEDIT.Colorado.gov/covid19 or SummitChamber.org/state-and-national-relief-options. McGary also recommended that local business owners reach out to the Northwest Colorado Small Business Development Center for one-on-one consulting.