El Paso County Economic Development has awarded $900,000 for 128 small businesses as part of the Pikes Peak Enterprise Zone Small Business Relief Fund.

The community grant-funded program aims to give financial assistance to small businesses in the Enterprise Zone impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants were made possible by donations in the amount of $31,460. Under the CARES Act, El Paso County allocated an additional $866,660 in federal dollars to support the economic recovery of small businesses throughout El Paso County.

The Pikes Peak Enterprise Zone consists of several areas throughout the county with unemployment rates at least 25 percent above the state average; per capita income at least 25 percent below the state average; and/or population growth less than 25 percent of the state average (rural areas).

Businesses that are certified within the enterprise zone are eligible for tax credits and other incentives.

Enterprise zone small businesses awarded grants have experienced a disruption and decrease in business operation and workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The average award was $7,016, with requests ranging from $2,000 to $7,500.

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The money will help small businesses struggling to sustain operations with critical funding necessary to maintain their workforce and recover during and after this public health emergency.

Small businesses awarded this grant won’t have to pay it back. They can use the funding for essential needs such as rent or mortgage assistance, utility payments, employee payroll and payment of fixed debts.

“COVID-19 has created a severe economic disruption to our community,” said Crystal LaTier, El Paso County executive director of economic development. “Small businesses are critical to El Paso County’s economic stability. They bring vitality and character to our community.

“These grants give a substantial boost to these businesses struggling during this time. We are grateful for the generous donations of individuals and businesses to this program. We are thankful to the Board of County Commissioners for their quick allocation of CARES Act funding that will give direct and immediate relief to our small businesses.”

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Pikes Peak Community Foundation and Pikes Peak Small Business Development Center helped bring the Pikes Peak EZ Business Relief Fund program to the Pikes Peak region.

No new applications for the Pikes Peak Enterprise Zone Small Business Relief Fund are being accepted at this time.

For more information on resources to help businesses respond to COVID-19 please visit El Paso County Economic Development.

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