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Just one week after its launch — and after an “overwhelming” response — Survive & Thrive COS announced it’s presenting $494,300 in funding to 25 local businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The recipients are being notified today. Flooded with 600 applications in its first week, Survive & Thrive plans to allocate another $500,000 next week.

Launched March 30, Survive & Thrive COS provides recovery funding (up to $25,000), mentoring and resources to boost the sustainability and future growth of small businesses based in the Pikes Peak region. Recipients receive funding within days of their application being approved, and all awards are made over a three-month period.

“We realized early on that our local small businesses would need immediate support to sustain operations now and beyond the pandemic,” Vance Brown, co-founder and chairman for startup accelerator Exponential Impact, said in a Wednesday morning news release. XI leads the Survive & Thrive COS partnership. 

“The ripple effect to small businesses shutting down is staggering. They are the heartbeat of the local economy. It will be much easier to turn the economy back on than it will be to rebuild the economy.”

Federal agencies are overloaded and more immediate funding will be required to meet the need while small businesses wait on that assistance, he said. Brown explained that while some small businesses have access to federal programs, many of them do not qualify for loans. They also face the challenges that come with a cumbersome process.

Natasha Main, XI’s executive director, told the Business Journal applications have come from Springs mainstays as well as new businesses. 

“It’s been a both-and,” Main said. “We are overwhelmed by the numbers in that first week of applications. It’s people who are just coming onto the scene and are trying to survive this, as well as our community institutions who have been around for 20, 25, 30 years with multiple employees, who have never seen anything like this before.

“Even the emails I’ve received from the applicants have just been so overwhelming, in terms of — they’re so alone right now and this is their hope,” she added. “They’re just very scared and [talking about] the importance of this kind of programming and the community response.”

The rush of applications means there’s “absolutely” an increased demand for more Survive & Thrive investors, Main said.

“We are very grateful for the contributors thus far — we are funded right around $1.7 million, but this is going to dry up quickly,” she said. “That means we’re only able to support about 60 companies. And when we’re seeing 600, 700 applications in the first week, we know that the demand is greater than what we have capacity for. 

“So we need people to see this as this support as critical infrastructure to our community and to our economy and invest in it.

“In just one week, we see the process working,” she added, “and with increased investor support, we can help more small business owners through this crisis.”

Those interested in investing should email natasha@exponentialimpact.com. Contributions are managed through a dedicated 501(c)3 fund.

“The need is local and the time is now,” said Brown. “Every one of us is likely a friend or patron of a small business owner. When we talk about this pandemic, we rally around the idea of mutual support and working together. Funding the sustained and ongoing growth of our local businesses is as much part of that as everything else. It’s more than supporting them … it’s supporting all of us and our community’s well being.”

Survive & Thrive COS continues to accept support requests from businesses with two to 25 employees

Main said the “super quick” application process focuses on basic, high-level information: “How are they planning on using the funds? What size company are they? How many people are they employing?

“The whole program is designed to help save jobs and support these small businesses,” she explained. “So there are a couple questions to understand their business significance to our community as well: Have they been around for a while? Are they a staple in our local economy? Are they important in driving our quality of life here?”

Full eligibility details and the application are at exponentialimpact.com.

Survive & Thrive COS is a partnership led by Exponential Impact with significant support from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, the Lane Foundation, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and Colorado Springs Utilities.

“The entire community is impacted by COVID-19,” Gary Butterworth, CEO of Pikes Peak Community Foundation, said via email.

“It is our job to bring all the resources, human and financial, to bear that we can in order to protect the vitality of our community. In times of disaster philanthropic dollars can often be more flexible, and can sometimes be leveraged further, to aid in community-wide recovery efforts, beyond nonprofits and across all sectors.

“We need all of the tools in the tool shed, not just the tool-box, and while federal and state efforts are important, and underway, it’s local efforts like Survive and Thrive that are responding rapidly, and with local knowledge about our small business sector.”

Read more about the organization’s work in the April 10 edition of the Business Journal.