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Pueblo City Council approves resolution for COVID-19 emergency fund to support businesses

Downtown Pueblo.
Posted at 10:26 PM, Apr 13, 2020

PUEBLO — Update: 4/16 5:30 P.M.

The request for application for small businesses to apply for grants or loans from the city of Pueblo to help keep their companies afloat is now available online.

The request for application for the COVID-19 Emergency Business Loan and Grant Fund can be found at www.pueblo.us.
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Pueblo City Council has unanimously passed an emergency resolution to help local businesses.

On Monday night members approved the transfer of $5 million out of the half-cent sales tax fund to a COVID-19 emergency fund.

Mayor Nick Gradisar says these funds are normally used for job creation and economic development, so in order to transfer those millions in tax money the council also had to vote to amend the criteria ordinance. The mayor says this is all legal and that city council has the ability to make these changes. The unanimous votes - paving the way for businesses to get support during this difficult time.

It's too soon to tell just how much the coronavirus has impacted Pueblo's economy, but Mayor Gradisar believes that "it's going to be big and we're going to have to be prepared to deal with it...our retail stores and our restaurants and bars are closed so they're not bringing in any money whatsoever or very little money."

It's why the city has decided to repurpose some of the money in the half-cent sales tax fund - $5 million dollars to be exact.

Mayor Gradisar said, "That would be made available to local businesses who apply for aid. $20,000 - could be in the form of a grant, up to $100,000 in the form of a loan."

The mayor says any business within the City of Pueblo can apply.

"They'd be able to use these funds for things such as rent or inventory."

It's something people like Deb DiNero, owner of Tailored West Pueblo, might need in the coming months. She said, "I think I'm going to be okay to get to May, but if this goes into June it's going to get a little scary."

Being a non-essential business, she's had to temporarily close her doors.

"It would definitely help out with rent. I've got to pay for my employees...pay for my utilities."

Pueblo City Council President Dennis Flores said, "One of the most important things that this money would do is to prop up a business that could also make a commitment of keeping their employees or rehiring their employees that they've laid off."

Mayor Gradisar said, "It's important for us to try to put them in a position and try to help them. When we're ready to lift the stay-at-home order and they're ready to open up again we can get them up and running as quickly as possible."

It's unclear right now exactly when businesses will start getting this money. The application still needs to be posted to the city website and the mayor says this could happen by Tuesday afternoon. A three-person committee will be reviewing applications to decide who will get a grant or loan.

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