Business – The Pagosa Springs SUN The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Fri, 03 Apr 2020 17:34:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Record number of unemployment applications flooding into Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Sun, 05 Apr 2020 11:00:38 +0000 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is receiving an unprecedented number of unemployment applications in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We started seeing a surge of applications to our system really starting the week of [March] 16th and we saw the greatest volume really after the 18th,” said Cher Roybal Haavind, deputy executive director and chief communications officer for the CDLE, in a phone interview Monday, noting Gov. Jared Polis’ executive order that closed all ski resorts in the state had a significant impact.
Haavind explained that from Monday, March 23 to Sunday, March 29, the CDLE received about 100,000 applications.
“These are preliminary, unofficial claims numbers, these are only the number of applications received,” Haavind said.
The previous single-week record for initial claims filed and processed in Colorado was 7,749, and Haavind discussed the difference between that number and the 100,000 applications from last week.
“One is an official data point that’s submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor every Wednesday, embargoed until the next day for release and that’s when you see the national — they call them ‘initial jobless claims numbers,’” Haavind said. “So, they’re the official numbers from each state that each state reports into the U.S. Department of Labor on a weekly basis.”
Haavind continued, “The 100,000, these are just claims that have been submitted online, through our online application process and why there could be a difference is for a number of reasons,” citing that wage verification and eligibility determination are two of the factors.
The official number of initial unemployment claims for the week ending March 21 is 19,745.
Haavind explained how the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will bolster the CDLE’s unemployment offerings.
“The two main areas that will have the most impact: One, is a category of workers who are not yet eligible for unemployment and that’s self-employed or independent contractors. The CARES Act that was signed into law last week includes that worker category as now being eligible for unemployment. The other provision within the CARES Act is an additional $600 a week on top of a claimant’s weekly benefit amount. So, in Colorado, around $400, $450 is the average weekly benefit amount and that $600 for every claimant is on top of their weekly benefit amount. Those are two pretty substantive changes and impacts to our state unemployment insurance program,” Haavind explained.
Haavind explained the CDLE is still waiting on guidance from the federal government.
“We are still eagerly awaiting guidance from the federal government both to tell us how to administer these and to tell us how we will get reimbursed,” Haavind said. “Even in the last few days, we’ve had a lot of interest, especially from self-employed workers, about when they can start filing for those benefits and, unfortunately, Colorado, like every single other state, is not yet set up to receive these new claims, but we hope to have more information as the week progresses.”
February employment numbers
The SUN received employment data from CDLE for February, which does not reflect how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected job and unemployment numbers across the state.
The unemployment rate for Archuleta County increased to 3.7 percent in February from 3.6 percent in January, with 6,640 people in the labor force and 248 of those claiming unemployment.
The unemployment information is disseminated by a press release from the CDLE.
In January, there were 6,435 people in the county’s labor force, with 238, or 3.6 percent, claiming unemployment.
The total workforce increased by 205 people over the course of the month, while the number of unemployed people increased by 10.
Looking at the February employment situation for the rest of the state, Huerfano County had the highest unemployment rate for the month at 7.9 percent, while Kiowa County had the lowest rate at 1.4 percent.
The unemployment rate in Colorado was unchanged from January at 2.5 percent.
Statewide, the number of people actively participating in the labor force in Colorado increased 5,600 from January to February, to 3,186,400.
The national unemployment rate decreased .3 percent from January to February, dropping to 3.5 percent.
The unemployment rate, labor force participation, total employment and the number of unemployed are based on a survey of households. The total employment estimate derived from this survey is intended to measure the number of people employed.
However, nonfarm payroll jobs estimates are based on a survey of business establishments and government agencies, and are intended to measure the number of jobs, not the number of people employed.
From January to February, nonfarm payroll jobs in Colorado increased by 3,100 for a total of 2,816,900, with private-sector jobs increasing by 1,000 and government jobs increasing by 2,100.
Over the month, the largest private-sector job gains were in other services, financial activities, and professional and business services.
The largest over-the-month decline was in construction.
Over the year, the number of Coloradans participating in the labor force increased by 65,700, total employment increased by 81,700 and the number of unemployed decreased by 16,000.

Colorado SBDC: Paycheck Protection Program and available programs Fri, 03 Apr 2020 17:34:32 +0000 Lenders will start accepting Paycheck Protection Loan (PPP) applications today, April 3rd, for small businesses and sole proprietors. Independent contractors and self-employers can begin submitting applications on April 10th. This program provides potentially forgivable loans in amounts to cover 2.5 months of payroll or $10 million (whichever is less).
To apply for a PPP:
  • Review the application and gather the necessary materials such as payroll tax filings, proof of lease payments, proof of mortgage payments, and proof of utility payments
  • Get in contact with your accountant and/or bank that pays out your business’s payroll. Ask your lender if it is authorized to process your Paycheck Protection Program loan.
  • If you are not connected to an authorized lender, you can search for an eligible lender here. (which currently shows headquartered bank locations)
  • If you are unable to find an eligible lender, you contact the local Colorado SBA District Office. We are also working on a list of eligible lenders to share and post in the near future.
Contact your local SBDC who can help you navigate this process.
The PPP is a part of the CARES act enacted last week. We encourage you to apply for this program and also encourage you to review all of the grants and loans that are now available to you through this Act.
Available Federal Grant and Loan Products include:
Note: You have the ability to wait to accept a product, loan, or grant after you apply and are approved. Depending on your situation, a prudent action would be to apply to multiple products and as you weigh your options and learn more of the intricacies of how they interact together, you can then make additional informed decisions on how you will choose to use and expend each of the grants and loans.
For additional information:

Town moving forward with judge appointment Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:00:50 +0000 By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer
At its meeting on April 8, which will be held remotely, the Pagosa Springs Town Council is anticipated to consider an agreement with Justin Fay to serve as the municipal court judge.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Town approves agreement for new electric vehicle charging station Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:00:40 +0000 By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer
At its meeting on March 19, the Pagosa Springs Town Council took the next steps toward putting another, faster electric vehicle charging station at Centennial Park.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Public Meetings Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:00:33 +0000 The following meetings are subject to change.
Thursday, April 2
Dispatch Executive Management board. 9:30 a.m., Pagosa Springs Medical Center board room, 95 S. Pagosa Blvd.
Pagosa Springs Town Council special meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.
Southwestern Water Conservation District regular board meeting. Time to be determined, 841 E. Second Ave., Durango.
Friday, April 3
Southwestern Water Conservation District annual water seminar. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., 841 E. Second Ave., Durango. Update regarding COVID-19.
Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors focus group facilitation. 6 p.m., 7 Parelli Way.
Saturday, April 4
Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors strategic planning facilitation. 9 a.m., 7 Parelli Way.
Tuesday, April 7
Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m., Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St.
Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners regular meeting. 1:30 p.m., Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St.
Wednesday, April 8
Pagosa Springs Town Council special meeting. 5 p.m. See town website for participation information.
Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation regular board meeting. 5:30 p.m. Join Zoom meeting at Meeting ID: 649 077.
Thursday, April 9
Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District regular meeting. 5 p.m., 100 Lyn Ave.
Monday, April 13
Pagosa Peak Open School Board of Directors regular meeting. 4 p.m., 7 Parelli Way.
Tuesday, April 14
Archuleta School District Board of Education elementary school visit. 8 a.m., Pagosa Springs Elementary School, 141 S. 10th St.
Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners work session. 8:30 a.m., Archuleta County administration building, commissioners’ meeting room, 398 Lewis St.
Archuleta County Republican Women’s meeting. Noon, Boss Hogg’s, 157 Navajo Trail Drive.
Archuleta School District Board of Education regular meeting. 6 p.m., Pagosa Springs High School auditorium, 800 S. 8th St.
Pagosa Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting. 6:30 p.m., Station 1, Training Room, 191 N. Pagosa Blvd.

Charter school receives clean audit, adds two board members Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:00:28 +0000 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
For the fiscal year 2019, the Pagosa Peak Open School received an unmodified opinion from its auditing firm, Mayberry and Company LLC.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

New community and business COVID-19 resources Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:00:19 +0000 By Mary Jo Coulehan
Special to The SUN
There is a new regional website that has been created by Region 9 and the Community Foundation along with other agencies such as the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and local counties and towns. This website was originally designed to provide a “one-stop” location for community members for the 416 fires. This site has now been expanded to include all five Region 9 counties in southwest Colorado.
The website is very comprehensive and broken down into Public Health, County Resources, and Business Resources. All of the relief programs that we will be mentioning, and more, are on this website. This website is a wealth of information, from finding the right loan program and downloading the forms to questions and answers from ThinkHR and Mammoth HR groups helping businesses weed through all the different programs and employee-related questions about laying people off, Workshare programs, payroll tax programs, etc. Make this your go-to site,, for your business questions. People seeking information can also call the Central Call Center at 422-7084.
COVID-19 relief programs for businesses
There are relief programs to assist businesses in this dire time of closure and layoffs. Here are some of the more prominent programs. However, there are more programs available and they can be found on the new regional COVID-19 informational website,
The big program that businesses have been waiting for is the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program or EIDL. Small businesses can apply for a $10,000 grant in advance of an SBA Disaster Loan and receive payment within three days of the SBA receiving the documents. At this initial time of applying, businesses need to complete the forms on the SBA website. Loans can be used for rent, mortgage, payroll, paid sick leave, materials or other operational items. After this part of the application process has been completed, the SBA will require that you provide additional forms such as payroll information for 12 months, tax returns, business leases and business certification. Even if you do not qualify for the full loan, the understanding is that the $10,000 “grant” will not be required to be paid back. Go to to start the process.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a grant/loan program for those businesses that want to apply for money to keep their employees on payroll. The program allows you to apply for a maximum of 250 percent of your average monthly payroll. These funds must be used for payroll, but can also be used for rent, mortgage, utilities or other debt obligations. Loan forgiveness applies if: you keep the same number of full-time equivalents per month as you did between Feb. 15 and ending on June 30 or starting Jan. 1 and ending Feb. 29. There is also forgiveness if the employer maintains total wages and salaries at 75 percent of the wages and salaries to the employee for the most recent full quarter during which the employee was employed before the covered period. Total forgiveness amounts will not be included in taxable income. If businesses do not meet the forgiveness guidelines, then this grant program turns into a loan program with applicable low-interest rates set by the SBA. So, it is important that businesses understand this is not free money. There are strict guidelines they must adhere to.
There is undisclosed individual and employee assistance programs coming down the pike for self-employed, independent contractors and those with limited work history. The initial guidelines we see is that this program may cover up to 39 weeks of unemployment insurance. Stay tuned for more information.
The Region 9 Disaster Assistance Loan Program provides loans for businesses up to $10,000. This program offers zero percent interest if the loan is paid back within six months. After six months, the interest only goes to 1 percent and thereafter to a prime rate. This application process is also easy, with employers needing to put forth a Job Development Statement indicating what the funds will be used for, how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted your business, number of employees at the time of the event, cutbacks and other general questions. Contact Brian Rose or Jenny Stollar, business loan specialists at the Region 9 offices, at
The Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County, at the time of writing this article, are also looking at ways to enhance the existing loan and assistance programs to our community. The Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado has the CERF program (Community Emergency Relief Fund). Business and individuals can apply to this fund for assistance through Donations to this relief fund are also graciously accepted. There is also the Pagosa Outreach Connection, which has been serving Archuleta County emergency needs for over 15 years. Requests are for emergency onetime needs.
Nonprofit organizations can take advantage of several programs that are out there through the Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, Nifty Fifty and Caring for Colorado just to name a few. Funding may also be available through the El Pomar Foundation. Requests should be directed to regional council members Mary Jo Coulehan or Lisa Scott.
This article scratched the surface of what is coming on board for our businesses and individuals. Here are some tips: Contact your bank now. See what types of programs might be available to you through their services. One local bank has an Emergency Loan Relief Fund set up with low interest rates. Contact your mortgage lender or property management company to inquire about rent reduction, deferment or forgiveness. If you need a loan, find the right one for you. The SBDC has consultants available to help you through the process. Instead of laying off, can you participate in the Workshare Program? Can you reduce hours of operation instead of offering full-time services? Most businesses have already gone through the downsizing process, but it is just a gentle reminder. Have you done a cash-flow statement for your business for at least the next two months? More information is being released every day.

Region 9 unveils two programs to help struggling businesses Thu, 02 Apr 2020 21:00:08 +0000 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer
The Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado has announced two programs to help struggling regional businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic: the Disaster Assistance Loan Program and the Enterprise Zone Project.
“The Business Support Loan Fund and the Enterprise Zone (EZ) projects are two different programs/tools,” wrote Region 9 Executive Director Laura Lewis Marchino in an email to The SUN. “We set up the Disaster Assistance Loan Fund and … Region 9 also received approval for the EZ Contribution Project, so if you contributed money to the ‘Business Support’ Contribution Project, you would get a 25% tax credit on your donation and the money would help Region 9’s Disaster Assistance Loan fund for low interest loans [to] go further.”
A flyer about the Disaster Assistance Loan Program illustrates some of the specifics of the program, which include:
• Loans are available for amounts between $1,000 and $10,000.
• Loans can help cover “essential business expenses” such as payroll, rent and utilities.
• The loans are zero percent interest if paid back in less than 6 months and have 1 percent interest if paid back between 6 and 12 months.
• The loans can include flexible collateral.
• Streamlined applications are due April 9 to or
Interested parties can contact Jenny or Brian for applications and are also available at
“The Region 9 Disaster Assistance Loan Program is designed to help those that are currently in business and who have a plan to continue their business operations after the COVID-19 crisis,” a flyer about the program states.
“As part of the application process we would like to request a Job Development Statement, a Personal Financial Statement, 2019 Year end Profit & Loss Statement and Balance Sheet (or tax return if completed) and a written narrative describing how the funds will help support your business during the coming months,” the flyer states.
The flyer provides “guiding questions” for the written narrative part of the application, which include:
• How long have you been in business?
• How many employees did you have prior to the COVID-19 event?
• How will the loan funds be spent?
• How are your operations currently impacted by the current crisis?
The Disaster Assistance Loan Program serves Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties and includes the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.
“Disaster Assistance Loan applications will be accepted through April 9th, with funding to begin immediately thereafter,” a press release states.
Asked if Region 9 has ever set up a Disaster Assistance Loan fund before, Lewis Marchino wrote in an email, “No this is a new fund, but we set it up in our policies so we can reactivate when/if other disasters occur.”
Lewis Marchino said in a phone call Wednesday morning that Region 9 had at least 28 applications for emergency loan funds and 168 businesses had made inquiries about the money.
Asked what additional information she’d like to get out to the public, Lewis Marchino wrote in an email, “…we have been talking to First [Southwest] Bank’s Community Fund to make sure we don’t duplicate the limited funds to the same businesses and just triage and collaborate between our current customers. Helping our businesses will take all of us.”
Lewis Marchino explained in a follow-up phone call that First Southwest Bank is doing a similar loan program and the communication with the bank is to ensure that the loans from them and Region 9 are not being disbursed to the same few businesses.
“We don’t want to double dip,” she said.
Enterprise Zone Project
“To assist businesses that have had to close or had their services limited, Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado (Region 9) was approved for an emergency Enterprise Zone Project,” a press release from Region 9 about the program reads. “Any donation of $100 or more is eligible for a 25% State Tax Credit. Donations will be put towards a Business Support Fund, helping businesses cover immediate needs from rent, payroll, insurance, utilities and with grants and low interest loans while their doors are closed. This EZ Project will help fill gaps from other State and Federal programs that businesses might be eligible for.”
“Being able to respond to the emergency needs of regional businesses to help them navigate the COVID-19 crisis will result in less permanent job loss and economic impact in our rural communities,” Lewis Marchino is quoted as saying in the press release. “Our region had 56,119 jobs in 2018 (latest data available) and with the mandated closures, we know jobs will decline and we want to keep job losses as low as possible.”
“The focus of this fund will be on businesses that were forced to close on short notice; the anticipated ability to survive and re-open in 60-90 days; a positive track record and ability to leverage this funding with other sources like other banks, Region 9 loan funds, or other programs,” the press release continues.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Lewis Marchino said that contributions to the EZ Project could allow Region 9 to extend how long they can offer zero interest loans and even expand the program.
More information about these programs and resources for businesses can be found at

Local business owners discuss economic effects of COVID-19 Mon, 30 Mar 2020 11:00:33 +0000 By John Finefrock
Staff Writer
COVID-19 has severely impacted businesses in the Pagosa Springs area.
The SUN interviewed a handful of local business owners and the stories were generally the same: Business is down over 70 percent for many; local companies are cutting more than half of their employees, sometimes more; and employers are working to find ways to help the laid-off workers amid the economic conditions that surround COVID-19.
“We’re trying to keep our entire staff going and we’re trying to do that so we can maintain the staff because it’s not easy to find a qualified technician,” said Bill Schwab, co-owner of Piedra Automotive.
Schwab explained his business is down 70 percent compared to the same week last year.
Schwab said his message for local community members was to “support local businesses” and said Piedra Auto is taking precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help mitigate the risk of clients and employees contracting COVID-19.
Schwab also noted in the past he’s petitioned local governments to spur growth in industries besides tourism so the local economy wouldn’t be so handicapped by the number of tourists in the area.
Bob Hart, owner of Mountain Pizza and Taproom, said that once Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order on March 14 that closed Colorado ski areas, including Wolf Creek Ski Area, Mountain Pizza immediately noticed a drop in sales.
“When I look at sales for last week compared to the same week a year ago, we’re about 80 percent off compared to a year ago,” Hart said.
Hart noted he hasn’t yet had to lay any employees off, but some staff hours have been cut about 50 percent.
“We really, really appreciate our customers that are still coming for takeout only, and supporting our business and employees by doing so,” Hart said.
Bill Delany, owner of Good Earth Meds, a local marijuana dispensary, reported he hasn’t had to lay anyone off, but business has suffered.
As of Tuesday, Delany explained, Good Earth Meds has transitioned to curbside service only.
Delany explained that, until a new order took effect Wednesday, dispensaries had a choice of whether to do curbside service or not, but it became mandatory yesterday.
Good Earth Meds will accept orders over the phone, but recreational marijuana payments must be made in person.
All ordering and payments can be made in person using Good Earth’s curbside service. Identification is always required and service is only available for those 21 years and up.
Smoke Rings Dispensary temporarily closed today and tomorrow to deep clean the facility to ensure employees and clients are safe. It will reopen on Saturday morning, according to Dianna Bell, who owns the business with her family.
Tony Simmons, owner of Pagosa Brewing and Grill, said that his business had taken a “dramatic hit.”
“We normally serve like 300 people a night and we’re not anywhere close to that,” Simmons said, adding, “We’re changing our entire business model from on-premise to off-premise.”
Simmons explained he’s trying to keep as many employees as possible but had to whittle down his payroll from about 50 to about 18 people.
Pagosa Brewing has online ordering and curbside pickup and is now doing delivery with a minimum $25 order.
Simmons’ advice for local residents: “Take care and take out.”
Local jewelry and fine art store Lantern Dancer decided to temporarily close its doors until May 1. Its online store is still in operation and can be accessed at
“We believe for the safety and health of all in our community, it is best to close our store and to stay home,” Lantern Dancer manager Leanne Goebel wrote in an email to The SUN.
Jason Cox, co-owner of Riff Raff Brewing Company, said his business had to lay off a majority of its staff, citing how “extremely difficult” the circumstances are for everyone in the local community.
Cox explained that Polis’s executive order to close the ski resorts came at the worst economic time for Pagosans, as many local businesses use increased spring break revenues to stay in the black until the summer season.
Cox’s message to local Pagosans: “We’re all in the same boat, and we’re all friends and neighbors.”
Cox, who is also the broadband communications manager for the Archuleta County Broadband Services Office, reported that since about 1,700 Archuleta County students are now doing their work online, the Internet infrastructure has largely held up, noting that some areas, like around Hatcher Lake, are pushing full capacity.
The Springs Resort and Spa laid off “a large portion of its team” this week, according to a March 24 email to The SUN from Springs owner David Dronet.
In his email, Dronet outlined steps The Springs took to ensure “what’s best for our employees.”
“The lay-offs under state law provide the most immediate, and largest amount, of money to our team by compensating them for their earned time-off,” the email reads.
“We cut checks to our employees the same day for that time-off, as well as all wages earned up to that point, so they received funds immediately and ahead of regularly scheduled payroll check dates.”
Dronet wrote that lay-offs allow for “faster rehiring when this national emergency subsides.”
The Springs also set up a “Springs Family Pantry” where “our team can access food, supplies and other resources for free,” which Dronet noted in a phone call was set up to help laid-off employees.
A detailed list of business hours and operational changes businesses are making is regularly updated at

Colorado extends income tax payment deadline to provide relief during COVID-19 emergency Sun, 29 Mar 2020 11:00:22 +0000 Special to The SUN
The Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR) announced that it will extend the income tax payment deadline by 90 days to July 15. This extension will be similar to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extension. However, this payment extension applies to any qualifying income tax payment, regardless of the amount.
Coloradans will now have the option to pay any 2019 income tax payments that would normally be due on April 15 by July 15 without penalty or interest. This extension only applies to money owed by taxpayers for the 2019 tax year.
Taxpayers who are required to make estimated income tax payments for the 2020 tax year are also being granted an extension. Estimated payments due on April 15 and June 15 may be paid any time on or before July 15 without penalty.
The department is continually monitoring this evolving situation and responding in real-time to address the questions and concerns of Coloradans. To help keep the public informed, CDOR has set up a COVID-19 page where we will post all updates and changes related to taxes, deadline extensions, services and penalties.
Please visit for more information.