Montrose, CO — With a sense of urgency, City Councilors have approved a number of initiatives to aid small businesses that have been forced to close or have suffered substantial economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. The measures were approved during a virtual City Council meeting held Tuesday.
The council agreed to defer all small business sales tax remittance for a 90-day period, provide zero-percent interest loans to small businesses, and move funds budgeted for tourism promotion to help local businesses market and advertise their services.
Beginning immediately, businesses with less than $2 million in gross annual sales will have the option to delay city sales tax remittance for at least 90 days. The city estimates this move will keep approximately $3 million in the hands of area business owners who are trying to navigate through this difficult time.
Councilors also approved a $300,000 fund dedicated to providing small businesses with zero-percent loans and no repayment for at least 12 months. These loans of up to $5,000 per applicant are designed to assist businesses forced to close by state mandate or who have suffered significant financial loss due to COVID-19.
Small businesses can apply for funds to pay their fixed debt, provide for employees, pay their rent, and other necessary monthly expenses to make sure they can stay viable and reopen after the crisis is over. The application process and tracking of these loans will be a joint effort between the City of Montrose and Region 10.
Under the direction of the City Council and the City Manager’s Office, the city’s Office of Business and Tourism, OBT, is reallocating budgeted tourism and marketing funds to advertise on behalf of the small businesses that are still open in Montrose over the next several months. By using this service, businesses have the option to save their normal advertising dollars and put that money to use for other things like payroll, rent, and inventory to keep them operational through the pandemic period.
The initiative will be a cooperative marketing effort involving teams of three businesses that apply for a quick-turnaround marketing grant and then advertise together. The city, through OBT, will provide up to $1,000 per business group to qualified applicants. Marketing can be in the form of radio, print, video, social media or a combination thereof.
Two weeks ago, the OBT began organizing a social media movement with Friday night "Dine Out" events each week encouraging people to enjoy take-out services from local restaurants. The OBT has also organized the return of Small Business Saturday to promote socially-responsible commerce at small businesses throughout the pandemic. Online shopping and the purchase of gift cards is encouraged.
The OBT encourages residents to take a photo with their takeout or Small Business Saturday purchase and share it on social media with #weareopenmontrose.
Information on all of these programs, including how to apply, will be listed at CityofMontrose.org/COVID19 under the “business resources” button.
A replay of Tuesday’s meeting can be found here.
For more city news related to COVID-19, visit CityofMontrose.org/COVID19