Increase in COVID cases may threaten Garfield County variance
A concerning uptick in COVID-19 cases could put Garfield County’s variance from the state in jeopardy. The county is now at 244 cases since the pandemic began, with 44 being diagnosed between June 8 and 21. The variance could be rescinded if the county sees 60 cases or more in any two-week period. More concerning is that the current pending variance request could be jeopardized, as well as the possible move into the next state-wide phase of Protect Our Neighbors.
NEW amended public health order for Safer at Home and in the Vast, Great Outdoors
This public health order allows bars to open following updated restaurant guidance and provides updated guidance for higher education, personal services, and manufacturing. It also outlines the steps required to allow residential camps and indoor and outdoor events to resume while minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19.
Fill out a business social distancing plan
Guidance for businesses regarding COVID-19 testing
Garfield County Public Health urges employers to follow this guidance regarding COVID-19 testing of employees. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employers should not require a positive COVID-19 test result, or a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick, to validate their illness; qualify for sick leave; or to return to work.
Garfield County increasing local preference policy
Garfield County is bolstering its local preference policy to award more contracts to local vendors, helping the area recover economically from disruptions from COVID-19. Through the Garfield County Procurement Department, approved local vendors will temporarily see a boost from the usual 5 percent to a 7.5 percent preference on bids and proposals through Sept. 31.
Local loans and grants
The City of Rifle has emergency loan funds available for qualifying small businesses with up to 50 employees.
The Town of Parachute has allocated $100,000 toward its Business Interim Relief Program (BIRP), which includes grant funding up to $2,000 for businesses in Parachute and Battlement Mesa with 12 or fewer employees.
Small business loans and grants
Information for businesses experiencing economic distress due to the spread of COVID-19 is available. The Small Business Development Center Disaster Recovery and Continuity Guide for Colorado businesses details options for businesses on consulting, technical assistance, loan assistance, recovery strategies and more.
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) relief programs include Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, debt relief express bridge loans and more.
Energize Colorado Gap Fund – provides more than $25 million in grants and loans for Colorado small businesses. Sole proprietors, businesses and nonprofits with less than 25 full-time employees can apply for up to a $15,000 grant and a $20,000 loan for a possible combined total of $35,000 in financial assistance. Applications begin Aug. 31.
Colorado Lending Source – Loan funds are available specifically for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are located in rural Colorado.
Help Colorado Now – Community-based organizations can apply for grants of up to $25,000 from the COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation – a nonprofit offering direct financial assistance for restaurants during COVID-19.
Colorado Creative Industries – The Colorado Creatives Relief Grant is a one-time payment for nonprofit arts organizations with an operating budget of less than $1 million. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, May 13, at 4 p.m.
National Endowment for the Arts – A grant program has been established to support nonprofit arts programs across the country. Applications must be submitted to the first step in the process by Wednesday, April 22.
First Southwest Community Fund – The nonprofit has established a $3 million COVID-19 Rapid Response & Recovery Loan Fund that is available to rural businesses and nonprofits affected by the ongoing crisis.
Any business experiencing economic disruption can contact Northwest SBDC Director Erin McCuskey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Apply for an economic impact disaster loan -|
Jobs and unemployment
Connecting Colorado – a website that helps connect workers and employers.
Layoff/separations – assistance, information and resources available to employers that are looking at laying off staff or downsizing.
Work-Share Program may allow certain employees who have had reduced hours to claim partial unemployment benefits.
Unemployment Insurance – During layoffs, all employees are encouraged to apply for unemployment insurance. Those who are job-attached (meaning workers will be expected to return after a separation of up to 16 weeks) should file as “job-attached.” Those self-employed and contractors are also eligible for pandemic unemployment insurance.
More business resources
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CARES Act highlights – There are many provisions in the CARES Act to help small businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has highlighted what business owners need to know. The Chamber of Commerce has also produced a detailed guide and checklist for small business emergency loans related to the coronavirus and economic disruptions.
U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking immediate actions to help rural citizens, businesses and communities affected by COVID-19. On July 14, the USDA cut red tape to increase investment in rural America, making it easier for lenders to access four loan programs.
Emergency Paid Leave Rule – This rule is meant to limit the spread of highly contagious disease and enables workers in at-risk occupations to access testing.
DreamSpring is offering Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to small businesses in Colorado on a first-come, first-served basis up to $250,000.