Colorado applied for a disaster designation from the federal government March 17, as thousands of livelihoods were being upended by the state's shutdown of sit-down service at restaurants and bars …
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The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment saw a surge in unemployment claims from 400 on March 7 to more than 6,800 on March 17.
The high traffic to the unemployment call center and file-a-claim website caused slow processing times for applications, the department said in a news release. The department is conducting maintenance to increase the system’s capacity and stability.
The department also encourages workers who are experiencing a reduction in hours or wages to consider part-time employment in other industries that are seeing an increase in demand, such as delivery, logistics, transportation, health care — or retail, such as grocery stores and warehouses. The department plans to work with those industries over the coming days to match unemployed workers with hiring employers.
More information for workers is available at coloradoui.gov. Employers can contact 303-318-9100 or email@example.com, or see www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/layoffassistance, for more information.
The federal government declared Colorado a disaster area as the economic damage of COVID-19 continued to ripple throughout the state, and small businesses may be eligible for loans that can ease the pain.
Colorado applied for the disaster designation March 17, as thousands of livelihoods were being upended by the state's shutdown of sit-down service at restaurants and bars and the closing of theaters, gyms and casinos amid the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by a widespread coronavirus.
Gov. Jared Polis sent a request to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a federal agency, asking that small businesses in all 64 Colorado counties can qualify for economic relief loans. The agency announced that it approved the request March 19.
“Businesses across the state have already experienced significant economic losses and are anticipated to continue to lose revenue due to this pandemic,” Polis wrote in a letter to the SBA. Fears spurred by the spread of COVID-19 have caused major event cancellations, business closures, loss of walk-in customers, depletion of stock from suppliers and client cancellations, Polis noted. He signed the letter March 17.
More than 10 states had already received the disaster declaration approval amid the spread of COVID-19, Stephen Collier, spokesman for the SBA Colorado District Office, said March 17.
State officials worked with county representatives to identify the examples of "immediate harm" necessary for the request, according to Jill McGranahan, spokeswoman for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Who may qualify
Small businesses, private nonprofit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of COVID-19 may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million through the SBA.
The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, the SBA said in a news release.
Businesses may apply online and see more disaster assistance information here. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339.
Or contact the Colorado SBA office at 303-844-2607 for more information.
U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, and Colorado's other members of Congress had urged the Trump administration to quickly grant relief.
“The coronavirus is taking a toll on Colorado’s vibrant small businesses," Crow said in a March 17 news release. "With over 1.1 million Coloradans employed by small businesses, we must do everything we can to help Colorado’s workforce and quickly approve Colorado’s request."
Colorado's state government also offers a layoff-prevention program that could help businesses impacted by the state's 30-day ordered closure of dine-in service at bars and restaurants — or businesses that have been economically impacted by the pandemic in general. Colorado's Work Share program allows employers to split the cost with unemployment insurance to retain employees.
The program can pay employees up to 26 weeks of work-share benefits as long as their hours are reduced by at least 10% but by no more than 40%, according to the state Department of Labor and Employment.
Any Colorado employer may request a work share plan — not just those affected by the recent public health orders — but see here for more information and requirements.
Employers of any size may request a work share plan as long as the plan covers a minimum of two workers.
Employees who see a reduction in hours, or layoffs, are encouraged to apply for unemployment benefits, which can provide partial wage replacement, here.
The state's jobs database, ConnectingColorado.com, will continue to post listings for statewide jobs available.
Along with Colorado's application for SBA loans, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is working with its local, state and federal partners to identify other financial and technical assistance programs available. Contact the office at 303-892-3840 for more information.
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