Englewood launches grant program for small businesses

Qualifying operations can receive up to $2,000

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Grants of up to $2,000 are available to qualifying small businesses in Englewood that have been hurt by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the City of Englewood has developed its COVID-19 Small Business Support and Recovery Grant Program, and businesses that meet the rules can apply for the money now.

The program launched on March 24 and allows for businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic to receive a grant of up to $2,000. Englewood devoted $100,000 to the program, with $75,000 of the funds coming from the city's Community Development Business Grant Program and the remaining $25,000 coming from Englewood City Council's Budget. The Community Development program is the city's economic business grant that assists startups and business expansions.

The COVID-19 Small Business Support and Recovery Grant Program is targeting retailers, personal care businesses like barbershops, health-care and social assistance entities like child-care services, art galleries, performance venues, small manufacturing businesses and restaurants and food businesses.

To be eligible for the program, businesses must have 25 employees or fewer; experienced or are projecting a decline in revenue between Feb. 1 and April 15 due to COVID-19; experienced or are expecting to lose employment; be in good standing with Englewood for licensing and finance; be operating within city and state law; be registered with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office; and be able to provide financial records.

Go to www.englewoodco.gov/doing-business/resources-for-businesses for details and to apply.

Englewood Community Development Director Brad Power and City Manager Shawn Lewis presented details of the program on March 23 to the city council in an electronic meeting. Lewis had the authority to move the program forward as council approved an emergency declaration on March 17 that gives him the power to reallocate funds for critical needs in the city.

The city said it had received seven applications for the program by noon on March 24.

“This grant was announced at just the right time. Small businesses across Englewood are already feeling the financial crunch from the restrictions that have thousands of people taking refuge,” said Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director David Carroll.

Businesses face big changes

The morning before the March 16 announcement by Gov. Jared Polis that bars and restaurants would have to suspend dine-in services due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Erika Zierke, owner of the Englewood Grand bar, had already made the decision to close down.

Zierke educated herself about COVID-19 before the governor's announcement. She closely followed what other states like New York and California were doing to combat the spread of the virus. She spent time reading about flattening the curve — the theory that the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed down by closing businesses and schools and by reducing social gatherings.

“We're in the business of taking care of our community. It was difficult to decide what the course of action was, but it was the right thing to do for now,” said Zierke. On March 19, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment extended the stoppage of dine-in services until at least April 30.

It has only been nine months since Anna Finger opened up Barks on Broadway in Englewood — a dog day care center. Finger said she has seen a 50% decrease in the dog day care's cliental since the week of March 9.

The business was getting booked up for overnight dog care as residents had travel plans for spring break. But those overnight reservations soon turned into cancellations, Finger said, and now, Barks on Broadway is trying to keep business going as normal as possible. The dog day care is taking extra precautions in sanitizing and disinfecting the equipment it uses each day and its property, according to Finger.

“It is scary. We don't know where this is going with and what kind of impact this will have months from now,” said Finger.

While COVID-19 has caused trouble for businesses, Finger said residents who aren't using her dog day care are purchasing services that can be used in the future. Some other customers who are working remotely are dropping their dogs off to get exercise and play.

Before Finger opened Barks on Broadway, she was a nurse for 18 years at numerous hospitals including Children's Hospital Colorado, the Orlando (Florida) Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and the Seattle Children's Hospital on assignment. If it comes down to it, Finger is prepared to return to nursing.

“We do have our very loyal followers, and it has been great, but I don't know what is going to happen with this. I may have to go and supplement,” said Finger.

Surviving in downtown Englewood

Before the pandemic, Gallo Italian Supper Club and Bake at the 3400 block of South Broadway was serving 100 to 200 people a day, if not more. Now when you walk into the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by chairs on tables, a quiet building and a few staff members. But the Italian restaurant is still open.

Brian Meadows, co-owner of Gallo Italian Supper Club and Bake, said the restaurant is bringing in a quarter of its average sales as it is trying to survive on take-out and delivery orders.

“We were just coming into this city. We’re only about five and a half months into this, so people were just starting to recognize us,” said Meadows. “(COVID-19) has definitely impacted us severely.”

Gallo Italian Supper Club and Bake has 21 employees and hasn’t had to lay anyone off — but hours available for its staff to work have dropped.  Two kitchen staff members are working in the back of the house while two servers are delivering orders and working at the restaurant’s bakery during its hours of operation. On a normal weekend, Gallo Italian Supper Club and Bake had around 11 employees working at a time.

Meadows said cleaning has ramped up in the restaurant and that it is offering gift cards.

“I just want to stress the importance of supporting small, local business. We’re not some large corporation where we’re set for years,” said Meadows. “We have given everything we have into this place.”

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