Town of Breckenridge sets aside $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds for small businesses and workers

The town of Breckenridge is eerily quiet March 26 without the usual spring break crowds.
Liz Copan /

BRECKENRIDGE — The town of Breckenridge is providing $1.5 million in COVID-19 relief, aiming to aid affected small businesses as well as individuals. Half a million is being given to the Family & Intercultural Resource Center for its COVID-19 advocacy program, and $1 million will go toward supporting small businesses in Breckenridge. Both initiatives target rent payment issues. 

Money from the town distributed through the nonprofit resource center will be used specifically to provide rental assistance to people who work in Breckenridge and have been furloughed. Those who are assisted through the program do not need to live in Breckenridge — or even Summit County — but they must have worked in Breckenridge and been furloughed as a result of the countywide shutdown. 

The program, which rolls out March 30, will provide rent relief as well as guidance for accessing other resources and assistance, such as help applying for unemployment and other government programs. In order to receive assistance through the COVID-19 advocacy program, individuals must call the resource center at 970-262-3888 and participate in a needs assessment that will evaluate the individual’s financial situation. Employees at the nonprofit then will set up a virtual appointment with the individual as well as reach out to landlords.

The Family & Intercultural Resource Center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Help for small businesses

The Breckenridge Town Council met Thursday in a special meeting to discuss the distribution of the $1 million in local small business grants. Council members Wendy Wolfe and Gary Gallagher led the task force that developed the grant program and determined — based on input from the local lodging, retail and restaurant industries — that rent assistance is the biggest need. Wolfe said the grant program is for small, entrepreneurial businesses.

“This would at least provide a bridge grant allowing our local businesses to get through the next 30 days,” Wolfe said. 

Wolfe listed six criteria a business must meet to receive grant money:

  • Be currently closed by the Summit County order and unable to work from home. Restaurants that offer limited takeout options and retail stores that are able to do some mail orders still will be eligible for the grant program.
  • Have a physical location in Breckenridge with a monthly rent payment due to a landlord. The landlord cannot have ownership interest in the business. If a business has multiple locations in town, the business can receive only one grant distribution. 
  • Be open year-round
  • Have 16 or fewer employees or full-time equivalents based on the 2020 Business and Occupational License Ordinance report.
  • Provide evidence of business sustainability. For example: a statement of reserve funds, an application to refinance business operations or a Small Business Administration loan application.
  • Demonstrate by letter from the landlord that there will be a rent reduction, deferment or combination of the two for at least one month. The landlord also must agree to not evict the tenant for failure to pay rent for at least 60 days after receiving the rent grant from the town. 

Council plans to clarify a local ownership piece, as well, but it was not put out in the initial criteria Wolfe listed.

Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula pointed out that landlords should be as flexible as possible because reduced or deferred rent is better than receiving no rent from an evicted tenant. He said he would work with landlords to try to find a solution if the landlord refuses to reduce or defer rent. Mamula added that the property could then be vacant for several months depending on when and how business rebounds following the public health crisis. 

Based on the business license report, Wolfe said it is anticipated that about 250 businesses will qualify for the town-issued grant money. Wolfe said the plan is to pay one month of rent for businesses that qualify with a cap of $4,000 per application. 

“We want to make sure we spread this as broadly as possible,” Gallagher said. “We are providing short-term bridge assistance.”

“I think of this not as a cost but as an investment in our town to keep our town the same,” council member Jeffrey Bergeron said.

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