Denver has given businesses and nonprofits $14 million in COVID-19 relief money

The city has handed out 7,000 personal protective kits and launched a program to rent out laptops for people looking for jobs.

Mark Dishmon pays Sarafina Kidane for coffee at Whittier Cafe, which is closed to diners but open for to-go orders. March 17, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Mark Dishmon pays Sarafina Kidane for coffee at Whittier Cafe, which is closed to diners but open for to-go orders. March 17, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

The city’s economic development office handed out roughly $14 million in grants to hundreds of businesses and nonprofits in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief business development officer Deborah Cameron, who works at the city’s economic development office, provided those figures during a presentation to a city council committee Wednesday. The money was provided from March through December 2020. Businesses received up to $7,500 in aid.

Some local business owners have criticized the grant program’s application process for being too convoluted. They argue the city could be doing more to support them.

The city has provided more than $12 million in grants to more than 2,000 small businesses so far. Cameron said the money for the grants came from federal and local sources, as well as corporate donations. Applications for the latest round of emergency funds are due on Jan. 26.

A similar program for nonprofits launched in June. That program has doled out nearly $2 million to 184 small nonprofits, who can receive up to $15,000. The money comes from both local and federal sources.

Since August the city has provided businesses more than 7,000 personal protective equipment kits, each worth about $350 and funded through federal aid.

Cameron said her office has partnered with the Denver Public Library to loan out laptops and WiFi hotspots for up to three months. Funded by federal dollars, about 300 laptops and WiFi hotspots have been purchased.

Cameron said people with a library card can request a laptop by calling their local branch. She said more than 100 people have already requested the materials. The laptops and WiFi hotspots are meant for adults who need internet access to find jobs or learn new skills.

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