STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The town of Hayden donated $27,500 to local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday.
Five businesses received grants, following approval from Hayden Town Council. This was the first of two rounds of awards as part of the town’s Business Impact Assistance Program. The town has a remaining $7,500 it plans to award during its October meeting.
The funding comes from the CARES Act, which the federal government established to supplement relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to the financial impact of the pandemic. The money is part of a $2.2 million stimulus package Routt County received back in July, 45% of which it allocated to local municipalities.
It comes at a time when companies across Routt County and the country deal with the financial fallout of the pandemic, forcing many to close or declare bankruptcy.
“We have to work to help keep our businesses open. We felt this was extremely important,” said Town Manager Mathew Mendisco.
Seven businesses applied for the first round of funding. Two of the applicants were not eligible, one because the business was located outside of town limits and the other because the business requested funding for an expansion project, which cannot be covered under the CARES Act, according to Mary Alice Page-Allen, Hayden’s planning and economic development director. Town Council awarded the grants based on the number of full-time workers the eligible businesses employed: $1,500 per employee with a maximum of $15,000.
The biggest grant, totaling $15,000, went to Natural Path Botanicals LLC, a CBD and hemp oil company. Chief Executive Officer Steve Herron received the news about the award on his son’s birthday Friday.
“We feel incredibly fortunate for the support that we have received from the town of Hayden,” Herron said. “We are grateful for the support of our community and leadership team.”
He plans to use the money to sustain his existing workforce and begin the process of slowly recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
“COVID has decimated us,” Herron added.
As Mendisco pointed out, the town could have justified keeping its CARES Act funding allocation all for itself. But he and other local leaders agreed it was important to support business owners and their employees.
“If we invest in them long-term, then they will be able to stay open,” Mendisco said.
In doing so, the businesses will give back to the town by employing residents, pursing philanthropy projects and paying taxes.
“If you think about that return in the long term, it’s probably a better investment,” Mendisco added.
Particularly as Hayden grapples with the divestment from coal, a major industry for the town, local leaders have been looking for ways to diversify the local economy and foster a thriving community. Supporting local businesses is a big part of that.
As Mendisco said, “This could be the difference between them staying open and shutting down.”