December 1, 2020 – The El Paso County Regional Business Relief Fund (RBRF) saved up to 11,789 jobs and protected $1.1 billion in local economic output, according to a report just released by Summit Economics.
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners and the county’s Economic Development department created the RBRF to assist local small businesses and non-profits struggling with the financial impact of COVID-19. The County seeded the fund with $13.8 million from its allocation of CARES Act dollars.
“This is a prime example of El Paso County answering the call,” said Board of County Commissioners Chair Mark Waller. “Creating the Regional Business Relief Fund was perhaps the most impactful decision we made with the CARES Act funding. Through this program alone, up to 11,700 people still have a job and can still put food on their tables. Also, the businesses and non-profits that got this money never have to pay it back. This program is a win-win for our community.”
“We thank El Paso County for standing up this program to help meet the needs of our business community during these challenging times,” said Mayor John Suthers. “The RBRF saved jobs, kept businesses open and preserved up to $12 million in local sales tax revenue. We also thank Summit Economics, LLC for producing this report to provide accountability and transparency around the use of federal CARES Act dollars.”
“The RBRF’s efforts to provide funding to 864 local businesses are impressive,” said Tom Binnings, Senior Partner at Summit Economics. “The fund is a critical element in assisting the small business community and local organizations as they strive to keep their doors open and keep people working. In addition to providing a sense of hope ahead of a vaccine, the RBRF demonstrates leadership on the part of local governments, foundations, and non-profits to help during these social, medical, and economically painful times.”
According to Summit Economics, the total businesses helped by this fund employed 11,700 people (before COVID), and had an overall economic impact, as measured by output or revenues, of $1.144 billion annually. Economists estimate 20% of America’s small businesses could be lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yelp data indicates 60% of businesses that showed temporary closures on their website have moved to a permanent closure status. Hopefully most will reopen in the future. .
“The El Paso County business community needs broad based support to maintain resilience until normalcy returns,” Binnings continued. “We commend everyone involved for their efforts.”
The City of Colorado Springs retained Summit Economics, LLC to estimate the economic and fiscal impacts that might result from soft loans and grants made to local businesses and non-profit organizations. Specifically, Summit Economics examined those businesses that either shut down, or are at serious risk of laying off employees and closing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report examines the potential impact of grants made through the county’s RBRF in October 2020. In addition, the report also shows the cumulative impact of all local agencies that provided loans and grants to the area business and non-profits related to the disease. The other agencies measured include: Survive and Thrive, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, the Downtown Development Authority, and El Paso County’s EZ Business Relief Fund. The report also measures the economic impact over a 1- and 3-year timespan.
The RBRF provided up to $20,000 of grant assistance to 864 adversely affected businesses and non-profits in El Paso County from its direct allocation of Federal funds from the CARES Act Relief Fund. The County chose to open a competitive grant application process for small businesses and non-profits, to assist with their business-related costs incurred due to the COVID-19 economic disruption such as: rent, mortgage or utility payments, employee payroll, accounts payable and other fixed debt costs, and personal protection equipment.