COVID relief grant program has helped 17 businesses in Craig to date
COVID-19 brought with it many steep challenges, and cities have had to rely on the federal government to keep their economies afloat.
In Craig, the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was the source of a grant the Economic Development Committee received through an agreement over the summer of 2020.
The funding was initially announced by The Department of Local Affairs, and Moffat County had the distribution authority for that funding, according to Craig City Manager Peter Brixius.
“The County developed agreements with each of the tax identities that were qualified to receive allocations from that funding. The city of Craig of course was one of the jurisdictions that qualified, so we signed a collaboration agreement with the County, and had to agree upon what that distribution would look like,” Brixius said. “We pretty much came up with 60/40—the County would retain 60 percent and the city would retain 40 percent of the allocation. A lot of the funding that the County used was to support the Board of Health.”
So far, businesses who’ve been approved for funding are West Twin Cinema, The Find, 518 Wine Bar, Craig Hospitality (Quality Inn), Prodigal Sons Coffeehouse, The Embroidery Shoppe, Popular Bar, WHC CrossFit, Trav-O-Tel, The Seasoned Brisket, Northwest Colorado Arts Council, Chapman’s Automotive, Barrel Cathedral Brewery, Craig Chamber of Commerce, Craig Hotel, Good Vibes River Gear, and the Boys & Girls Club.
The EDC developed a COVID relief grant even before the collaboration funding came into effect. Brixius shared, which was inspired by a program that Kirstie McPherson was launching and another program developed by the City of Gunnison.
“We ran the first round of that grant and distributed a little over 40,000 dollars initially, and it was just shortly after our first round of distribution that the collaboration funding was announced and we met with the County and came up with that allocation,” Brixius said. “We advertised to local small businesses that could justify expenditures or lack of income resulting in a shortfall of payable obligations like rent and utilities.” (These expenditures or lack of income needed to be as a result of a COVID-related impact). “
Funding is still available, and a special meeting was held on Wednesday September 30th to authorize the remainder of funding to be utilized and allocated. The funding must all be used by the end of the year or it will be lost. For local businesses that still need help, the process is simple: download the application, fill it out, and submit it to the committee for review.
“I just think it’s been a great program to help support our local businesses who have really had some significant challenges” Brixius said. He shared that the newest grant cycle will try to prioritize the restaurant industry, as it was the hardest hit. Going forward into the winter months, “They’ll have to purchase appropriate coverings, tents, heaters, that sort of thing if they choose to increase their capacity by expanding into outdoor seating or continuing the outdoor seating that they already have during those months.”
Brixius also shared that any of the jurisdictions distributing funding may be subject to an audit, which could account for a lengthier review process.
The EDC committee is composed of three City Council members, City Manager Peter Brixius, and Mayor Jarrod Ogden. Andrea Camp is Committee Chair, and Steve Mazzuca and Chris Nichols are members. The current committee is an “offshoot of the former Economic Development Partnership that existed here for several years,” Brixius said. “About the time I came, it was the budget cycle at the end of 2018 for the 2019 budget. Both the City and the County at that time had decided that they wouldn’t continue to fund the EDP and at that point City Council determined they would try to undertake some of those responsibilities; not necessarily as a new department but just handling some of the responsibilities.”
Either they would have no designated Economic Development Partnership or someone would have to pick up that responsibility, so the City Council obligated funding for EDC’s first year in 2019.
To stay up to date with the EDP, visit their website or attend a public monthly meeting which is always advertised in Craig Press.
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