(CBS4)– More than 100 business owners in northern Colorado sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis asking him to end the enhanced unemployment benefit of $300 a week. They say the extra money is disincentivizing people to go back to work, which has meant a severe shortage of workers.

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“People can do math, right?” says Pete Gazlay, owner of Total Facility Care in Loveland.

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Gazlay headed up the letter. He’s in the business of commercial cleaning and says he is having to turn away jobs because he’s short 30 workers. He says he was getting around 25 applicants a week before the last stimulus payment in March. Then it dropped to about 7 applicants a week.

He’s not alone. Help wanted signs are everywhere, many businesses have reduced hours and some are offering $1,000 plus hiring bonuses.

“If you look every business is hiring people right now and they’re having a tremendously difficult time doing it,” said Gazlay.

He says he wrote the letter to the governor in desperation after trying repeatedly to reach someone in his office for weeks. Right now, the enhanced unemployment is set to end Sept. 6.

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“Yea, it’s only six weeks but those six weeks matter in the life of a business,” said Gazlay.

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Polis’ spokesperson, Conor Cahill, says, “It’s free money from the federal government for Colorado and if Colorado ended it … it would drain roughly $600-800 million out of our state.”

Gazlay says it’s not free. Business owners like him foot the bill for unemployment.

“We’re paying for this and it’s actually causing us harm rather than being the safety net it’s supposed to be.”

Mindy McCloughan, CEO of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, says the longer businesses can’t find workers, the longer the economic recovery will take.

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“While it did stimulate the economy, it has yielded some unintended consequences that we’re going to be paying for a long, long, long time,” said McCloughan.

Gazlay says Polis can help businesses with the stroke of his pen, “I would hope he would listen and hear the plight of so many business owners – and it’s from service companies like mine all the way up to professional organizations – that are struggling to hire people.”

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Polis is aware of the problem. He offered to pay people between $1,200 and $1,600 to go back to work in May and June. His spokesperson says 18,000 people took advantage of the offer at a cost of about $5.2 million. Gazlay and other business owners say getting rid of the extra $300 a week would be a better incentive. More than two dozen other states have ended the enhanced unemployment benefit.

Shaun Boyd