United Way of Larimer County announced Jan. 9 that it has created the Small Business Recovery Fund, a collaborative community initiative that provides urgently needed financial aid to small companies in Larimer County that were affected by the devastating September floods. The initiative is being undertaken in partnership with Blue Ocean Enterprises and the Richardson Foundation, with major support provided by Bohemian Foundation.

It’s estimated that at least 350 businesses in Larimer County are struggling in the aftermath of last year’s floods. Small businesses are at particular risk of failing, as they often lack the resources to withstand a catastrophic event. If these small businesses are unable to recover, there are impacts and hardships throughout the community.

The SBRF focuses on helping threatened small business rebuild by distributing lump-sum recoverable grants of $5,000-$50,000 each to help qualifying businesses rebuild. The SBRF addresses the fundamental need to stabilize small businesses so that the communities of Larimer County can return to normal.

SBRF grants are recoverable, meaning that recipients are encouraged to repay their grants in-full or in-part within five years or when their businesses return to viability. Repaid grants flow back into the SBRF to be redistributed to other eligible businesses impacted by the floods (or other future disasters).

The Richardson Foundation and Blue Ocean Enterprises created a dollar-for-dollar corporate fundraising challenge match of up to $500,000 to rally other Larimer County businesses to donate. Bohemian Foundation initiated and seeded the fund with $250,000.

In order to apply for an SBRF grant, businesses must meet the following criteria:
· Headquartered and/or operating in Larimer County prior to Sept. 12, 2013, excluding the area covered by the Loveland Chamber of Commerce Recovery Fund.
· More than two and less than 100 employees.
· Operating as a viable business for at least six months prior to Sept. 12, 2013, as demonstrated by financial statements and references.
· Current on state and federal taxes and in good standing in Colorado and the state of formation, if different.
· Demonstrated impact by the floods and need in order for the business to return to viability.

An independent volunteer panel of local business leaders reviews qualified applications and recommends funding amounts to a steering committee and/or the board of Directors of United Way of Larimer County for determination of final grants. Grants must be used exclusively to pay for operating costs and other expenses associated with efforts to rebuild an eligible small business.

Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria for an SBRF grant are encouraged to download application materials at www.UnitedWayofLarimerCounty.org and apply by the close of business on January 24, 2014 to be considered for the first round of grants. Grants are subject to available funding and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Questions about grant eligibility or the grant application process may be directed to the United Way of Larimer County SBRF Administrator at 970-407-7014 or sbrfadmin@uwylc.org.

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