Romer: Stimulus packages help business regain traction to lead recovery
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. One year later, businesses are taking the lead on recovery and resilience with the support of state and federal government.
Last week, Gov. Polis and legislative leadership announced initial details of the latest $700 million state stimulus package. On the footsteps of the state stimulus, the federal government also enacted a stimulus of $1.9 trillion last week. A significant amount of money will be available for state and local appropriation as a result of this federal package.
The state stimulus focuses on five key areas to help Colorado recover. The plan will utilize one-time funding available as a result of improved economic projections for the current state budget year.
The state plan focuses on strengthening small business through funding to the Energize Small Business Gap Fund, relief for arts and culture organizations, restaurant sales tax relief, incentives for events and conferences, and the Colorado Startup Loan Fund. Additional areas of focus include revitalizing our infrastructure, supporting families, investing in rural Colorado, and workforce development. These efforts recognize the role business plays in our continued recovery.
On Thursday of last week, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid reconciliation bill, coined the “American Rescue Plan.” The headlines for the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid reconciliation bill are centered around the direct support to citizens, including a $1,400 stimulus check, the extension of unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 and increase payments to $300/week (with the first $10,200 in benefits being non-taxable), and changes and expansions to the child tax credit. Changes include making the child tax credit fully refundable instead of partially refundable and increased to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children 7-17.
The American Rescue Plan Act is more than direct citizen support; it also provides additional relief for small businesses and hard-hit industries for programs the Small Business Administration is currently administering and adds new efforts to support our business community, including:
- $7.25 billion in additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, including to expand eligibility to additional nonprofits and digital news services
- Additional funds are allocated for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, and now allows businesses to apply for both a PPP loan after Dec. 27, 2020, and the SVOG
- $15 billion additional for Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance payments, including new $5 billion for Supplemental Targeted EIDL Advance payments for those hardest hit
- $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund for industry-focused grants
- $100 million to establish a Community Navigator pilot program; grants will go to eligible organizations supporting efforts to improve access to COVID–19 pandemic assistance programs and resources
Businesses such as bars and restaurants hurt by the pandemic will receive $25 billion in aid to help cover costs of rent, utilities, payroll, and other operational expenses. This reinvestment in business recognizes that our business community has been a fundamental part of helping our economy and communities adapt and recover from the pandemic.
In the face of the escalating crisis, local businesses continued to step up and we have seen a record number of businesses and individuals nominated for Vail Valley Success Awards.
It has been a challenging year, and through it all, the business community has been a driving force for good. Dozens (probably hundreds) of local businesses have shared with us their stories of grit, ingenuity, and problem-solving. It is good to see local, state, and federal government recognize this as well.