DENVER (CBS4)– Help is on the way to for small businesses in Colorado. The state Legislature is expected to give final approval Friday to a bill that provides $4 million in aid for small businesses disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Minority-owned businesses are among those hardest hit. Not only are African Americans and Latinos more likely to be hurt by COVID-19, the Federal Reserve says, they are less likely to get help from banks. The reasons range from racism to relationships.READ MORE: Police: Man Kills 6 Adults & Himself At Colorado Springs Birthday Party
Sen. James Coleman says, whatever the reason, the result is 60% of white business owners that apply for loans are approved while only 29% of African American business owners are.
“It’s not a question of why this is happening. The point is we need to be figuring out a way to make it so that everyone is getting access and, meanwhile, recognizing it’s a fact, it’s a problem, that these businesses don’t have the supports they need,” said Coleman.
Many minority-owned businesses are in hard-hit industries like food service and hospitality. Coffee at the Point in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood is one of them. For 10 years, owner Ryan Cobbins has worked to build a successful small business. In 10 months, COVID-19 nearly cost him everything.
“We’ve seen roughly a 75-80% drop in sales. There have been days that I have gone home and cried just trying to figure out… I have no idea how I’m going to make it to tomorrow,” said Cobbins.READ MORE: Denver Police Officer Shot Saturday Night, Suspect On The Loose
The legislature passed a bill during the special session in December aimed at helping businesses like Coffee at the Point. It directed the $4 million specifically to minority-owned businesses.
Sen. Bob Gardner one of the few voices of dissent, “When I saw the provision before, I said that isn’t going to stand, not going to last, but nobody wanted to hear that in special session. Now, we’re back here to fix it.”
After the bill passed, a white business owner sued the state pointing to a Supreme Court ruling that says government benefits can’t be based solely on race.
Rep. Leslie Herod is now sponsoring a new bill that directs the funding instead to “disproportionately impacted” businesses.
“Minority owned businesses need this money now and It’s not a lot but it’s what we can do in Colorado to help them survive,” said Herod.MORE NEWS: $30,000 Reward Now Offered In 1970 Murder Of Marilee Burt
Cobbins says even a little funding from the state will make a big difference, “There’s not a day, or it feels like a minute, that goes by that I’m not trying to figure out how am I going to make these pieces fit together. If I were to look at the books, the books say you’re done. My mind continues to tell me to keep putting one foot in front of another.”