Region 9 unveils two programs to help struggling businesses

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 Jenny@scan.org or Brian@scan.org.
Interested parties can contact Jenny or Brian for applications and are also available at scan.org.
“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 scan.org.

This story was posted on April 2, 2020.