For a Hot Minute, PPP Gets Easier

There's a short PPP priority window for (really) small businesses. Plus: Denver's resumed small business grants, and if you need health insurance, you can get it now during Connect for Health Colorado's open enrollment.

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Screenshot of Connect for Health Colorado's homepage.
Need insurance? Yeah, you do (especially during a pandemic). Open enrollment is now through May 15. / connectforhealthco.com

The Colorado Restaurant Association reports that PPP just got easier (and more lucrative) for businesses that have under 20 workers—but that window is closing on March 9, so apply now. Regulations have also been relaxed for outfits owned by non-citizens, people behind on their federal student loans, and people with certain felony convictions.

Meanwhile, Denver has reopened applications for Small Business Emergency Relief Grants (you can reapply if you received a grant last year) through March 7. It’s also hosting four workshops where you can get help on the complicated application. Plus, the push for a federal minimum wage of $15 is dead (for now); if you need health insurance, it’s currently open enrollment through Colorado’s insurance exchange; sign up for ServSafe classes for new hires; and check out the CRA’s resource guide on employee and mental health resources.

The following information comes from the CRA’s February 24 and 25 newsletters. Sign up to receive the full versions here. And take a gander at its Coronavirus Resource Center and COVID-19 Reopening Resources for general info.

Priority Window for PPP Loans for Small Businesses Open

More than 36,000 PPP loans equating to nearly $2.9 billion have already been approved for small businesses in Colorado since applications opened for the second round of the program in January. Recently, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has made changes to the program to promote equitable relief for small businesses.

The SBA announced that it will:

  • Establish a 14-day, exclusive PPP loan application period for businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 20 employees starting Wednesday, February 24.
  • Allow sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants.
  • Eliminate an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal.
  • Eliminate PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make federal student loan payments by eliminating federal student loan debt delinquency and default as disqualifiers to participating in the PPP.
  • Ensure access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.

The 14-day exclusivity period will start on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 9 a.m. and closes March 9, 2021. The other four changes will be implemented by the first week of March.

Access the PPP application on our website here.

New Round of Funding for Denver Small Business Emergency Relief Grants

The Denver Small Business Emergency Relief Fund (SBERF) is now accepting applications for a new round of business stabilization grants made possible by Small Business Relief funds from the State of Colorado. 

If your business was awarded a grant through one of the Sate’s programs in 2020, you are eligible to apply again. 2021 awardees are not eligible to apply at this time. 

Full eligibility, requirements, and the application can be found here

As the application process is rather involved, Denver Economic Development and Opportunity is hosting technical assistance sessions where you can ask questions, and receive tips for a successful application process. Session dates and times are below. 

“Raise the Wage Act of 2021” Ruled Ineligible to Be Included in the Budget Reconciliation Bill

On February 25, Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that the “Raise the Wage Act of 2021” is ineligible for inclusion into the budget reconciliation bill. 

In the Senate hearing, Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a hearing titled “Should Taxpayers Subsidize Poverty Wages at Large Profitable Corporations?” Committee Republicans, and their witnesses, spoke in opposition to the Raise the Wage Act. One of those witnesses was Carl Sobocinski, a restaurant operator and member of the National Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors.

View the testimony here. You can replay the hearing here.

Although it has been ruled ineligible for inclusion in this bill, it will remain on the short list of Democratic priorities. In partnership with the National Restaurant Association, we will continue to apprise Senators and Congress of our concerns with the elements included in the bill that would be harmful to the restaurant industry, including the elimination of the tip credit and language that could challenge that practice of tip pooling, especially between back and front of house employees, and wage changes while the industry is attempting to recover from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advocacy progress to that end is depicted in this article, written prior to MacDonough’s ruling.

We will keep you posted as we learn more.

ServSafe Classes Are Back in Session

The Colorado Restaurant Foundation has resumed hosting ServSafe classes! In order to accommodate socially distanced classes, we are temporarily holding classes at SpringHill Suites Denver Downtown at MSU Denver. We will offer one ServSafe Food Manager Certification Course per month, and Alcohol Safety Certification Programs on demand.

As a reminder, all retail food establishments in Colorado must have at least one employee who is a Certified Food Protection Manager – those who pass the ServSafe Food Manager Certification Course exam qualify. This course teaches basic food safety concepts, and the exam has a 95% passage rate. Additionally, to continue to be qualified as a Responsible Vendor, all new employees involved in the sale, handling and service of alcoholic beverages must complete alcohol beverage safety training within 90 days of date of hire. The Alcohol Safety Certification Program qualifies. 

Learn more about both of these classes here. 

Upcoming ServSafe classes:

  • Tuesday, March 23, from 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 27, from 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 25, from 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 29, from 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

REGISTER HERE!

If you are interested in having staff attend the next Alcohol Safety Certification Program offered, please contact Courtney Baylie at cbaylie@corestaurant.org

Uninsured Coloradans Can Enroll With Connect for Health Colorado Now Through May 15

Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, has opened a new Uninsured Enrollment Period that runs through May 15, 2021 to help as many people as possible protect their health and safety. Anyone who is uninsured can enroll during this time, without having a qualifying event to sign up. As a reminder, Connect for Health Colorado is the only place where Coloradans can apply for financial help to lower the cost of health insurance.

People can enroll by visiting www.ConnectForHealthCO.com or calling 855-752-6749. For free virtual or in-person help enrolling click here to find a local expert.

Employee and Mental Health Resources

As we approach the one-year milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health concerns are top of mind for the restaurant industry. As you all know, this crisis has upended the lives of hospitality workers multiple times over, on top of the pandemic side effects we all are facing. Many of you have reached out in search of more resources to be able to provide for your employees. To that end, we have compiled an employee resource guide that includes mental health resources, health care options for employees of CRA members, and displaced employee resources. We encourage you to take advantage of the resources and distribute this document to your staff. 

View the resource guide here.

Talk to DiningOut! Email your experiences (and thoughts, opinions, and questions—anything, really) to askus@diningout.com

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