Denver's Legacy Business Program

Denver's Legacy Business header graphic

Denver Economic Development & Opportunity is proud to announce the second round of Denver’s Legacy Business program to recognize and support longstanding, independent businesses that have contributed to community character.  

Overview

The City and County of Denver moves to acknowledge and support the unique benefits Legacy Businesses bring to individual neighborhoods and the city, recognizing the challenges faced by legacy businesses and the ripple effect their closures can have on neighborhoods.

Denver’s Legacy Business program aims to celebrate these businesses for their contributions and works to unlock and accelerate support and anti-displacement strategies for businesses with Legacy Business status.

Why apply for a Legacy Business designation?

Designated Legacy Businesses will appear on the City and County of Denver’s Legacy Business registry and will also receive:

  • Public recognition & networking opportunities
  • Marketing & branding support
  • Access to customized training opportunities & technical assistance
  • Tailored support and referrals to other city & state business support programs

Please note: businesses must apply and/or be nominated and then be accepted into the Denver Legacy Business Program. Read more about eligibility requirements on the ‘eligibility tab.’ 

Eligibility

Businesses may apply directly (self-nomination) or be nominated to the Denver Legacy Business Program. In order to be eligible for the program, the business must meet ALL 9 criteria:

  1. Located in the City and County of Denver 
  2. In good standing with Colorado Secretary of State's office
  3. Compliant with all city, state and federal licensing and taxing authorities
  4. Businesses engaged in activities that are legal under Colorado state law
  5. Annual gross revenue between $30,000 and $5,000,000
    (maximum revenue cap for Manufacturers is set at $10,000,000)
  6. Independent and locally owned
  7. Minimum of 10+ years of operation
  8. Publicly facing ("brick-and-mortar") physical location
  9. Provides goods or services directly to neighborhood residents as classified by NAICS codes:
  • 31-33 - Manufacturing ("Heritage Industrial")
  • 44-45 - Retail
  • 71 - Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
  • 72 - Accommodation and Food Services
  • 81 - Other Services (except Public Administration) 

81 includes, but is not limited to personal care services, laundry, auto repair and maintenance. This code is NOT a "default" for all other industries not listed above. 

Program Priorities

Applications will be prioritized based on consideration of several factors including Legacy Business characteristics and vulnerability to displacement pressures.

In addition, applicants will be asked to provide a narrative response demonstrating how their business:

  1. Provides needed and desired goods & services to local residents ("neighborhood-serving") and/or provides a place where people spend time between home and work where ideas are exchanged, relationships are maintained, and people can enjoy themselves ("third-place")
  2. Prioritizes social impact & engages the local community
  3. Cultivates tradition, neighborhood culture and/or contributes to a sense of history
  4. Demonstrates positive business practices with emphasis on fair treatment of employees, living wage and/or employee ownership

Application

Thank you for your interest in applying for Denver’s Legacy Business program. Applications are now closed. The next round will be announced later this year. 

Before starting the application, applicants are advised to read the full program description and eligibility requirements.   

Interested in nominating a Denver business for Legacy Business status? Nominations are now closed. Please stay tuned for the next round of applications.

Applicants will need to provide the following documentation:

  • Evidence of your business’ 2023 tax year gross revenue such as your annual profit and loss or income statement, annual sales report, or IRS Schedule C.
  • Current Good Standing certificate from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office
    • You can obtain a Certificate of Good Standing or Certificate of Face of Trade Name for your business at this link on the SOS website.
    • If your certificate is expired or delinquent, you may update your status using the appropriate form found at this link. Search for your business name, click on the "ID Number", select "Confirm" (authorized to make changes) and "File Periodic Report."
    • Call the Secretary of State's office if you need assistance at 303-894-2200 and press 2; or email: business@coloradosos.gov 

Please note: a completed application does not guarantee a Legacy Business Designation. Businesses will be notified of their application status prior to designation.

FAQs

  1. What is the Legacy Business program?
    •  A Legacy Business is a longstanding, independent and locally owned business that has contributed to community character and vitality and holds cultural significance. The Legacy Business program moves to acknowledge these businesses and support the unique benefits they bring to individual neighborhoods and the City and County of Denver. The program recognizes the challenges faced by many legacy businesses and the ripple effect their closures can have on a neighborhood. Denver’s Legacy Business program celebrates such businesses for their contributions and works to unlock and accelerate support and anti-displacement strategies.
  2. Why should I apply? What programs/services will be offered?
    • Designated Legacy Businesses will appear on the City and County of Denver’s Legacy Business registry and will also receive:
      • Public recognition & networking opportunities
      • Marketing & branding support
      • Access to customized training opportunities & technical assistance
      • Tailored support and referrals to other city & state business support programs
  3. How can a business apply?
    • A business can apply directly by completing the application on the ‘application tab’ on the program webpage.
    • In addition, a business may be nominated by an individual or organization that can attest to the value the business brings to the community. To nominate a business, complete and submit the nomination form. 
  4. When can I apply?
    • The second application round for those seeking to nominate a business and/or submit their own application starts on January 10, 2024, and will end on February 15, 2024, at 5 PM.
  5. What areas of the City and County of Denver are eligible for the pilot program?

    • A business may be located anywhere within the City and County of Denver. Eligibility is no longer restricted to NEST priority neighborhoods.

  6. How are Legacy Business designated?
    • Applications will be reviewed to ensure they meet all nine eligibility criteria. Also, applications will be evaluated based on Legacy Business characteristics as well as vulnerabilities to displacement pressures. Please note: a completed and submitted application does not guarantee legacy business designation.
    • Denver’s Legacy Business program recognizes a variety of characteristics, such as being independent and locally owned, longevity and providing goods or services directly to neighborhood residents.
    • In addition, applicants will be asked how their business:
      • Provides needed and desired goods & services to local residents (neighborhood-serving") and/or provides a place where people spend time between home and work, where ideas are exchanged, relationships are maintained, and people can enjoy themselves ("third-place")
      • Prioritizes social impact & engages with the local community
      • Cultivates tradition, neighborhood culture and/or contributes to a sense of history
      • Demonstrates positive business practices with emphasis on fair treatment of employees, living wage and/or employee ownership

      Applicants are encouraged to provide detailed narrative responses in order for the review committee to better understand the role of the business in their local community. Assistance is available upon request. 

  7. What documents are required in order to complete the application?
    • Certificate of Good Standing
    • Evidence of Annual Gross Revenue
  8. Where can I obtain my Certificate of Good Standing?
    • You can obtain a Certificate of Good Standing or Certificate of Fact of Trade Name for your business at this link.
    • If your certificate is expired or delinquent, you may update the status using the appropriate form found at this link.
    • Search for your business name, click on the ID Number, select “Confirm” (authorized to make changes) and “File Periodic Report.” Call the Secretary of State's office if you need assistance at 303‐894‐2200 and press 2; or email: business@coloradosos.gov
  9. Does my business need to have a physical location? Are online businesses eligible?
    • This program is specifically designed for small businesses that have a physical “brick and mortar” location and are open to the public. Online businesses or home-based businesses are not eligible to apply. A manufacturing business may not be open to the public, but must demonstrate how they meet the definition of “Heritage Industrial” (see below).
  10. What if my business has changed locations since its founding?
    • If the current business location is different than the original location, the application will ask you to provide the previous location(s) and date(s).

11. What if my business has more than one location? 

Businesses with multiple locations under a single owner are accepted as eligible based on the following: 

  • Same legal entity, number of different business locations (same chainlet, business type) - One (1) location designated/year, highest scoring application
  • Different legal entities, same chainlet/business type and owner - maximum of two (2) designations/year, highest scoring applications
  • Ownership groups with multiple businesses/applications and variety of business types - treated as stand-alone applications, no more than two (2)) designations/year per ownership group, highest scoring applications

12. The current business owner is not the original owner. Is my business still eligible to apply?

If your business is not a family owned/multi-generational business, you may still apply if you are not the founding owner. In this case, you will be asked to provide a brief ownership history.

13. My business experienced a temporary closure but has otherwise been in operation for 10+ years. Is my business still eligible to apply?

  • A business that has experienced a short-term/temporary closure of less than one year (due to COVID-19 impacts, ownership transition, etc.) will still be considered to be in “continuous operation” for the purposes of this program. The business must currently be in operation at the time of application to be eligible. If the business ceased operations for more than one year, the applicant will be asked to describe these circumstances.

14. How does the city define "third places"?

  • Third places is a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg and refers to places where people spend time between home (‘first’ place) and work (‘second’ place). They are locations that community members exchange ideas, have a good time, and build relationships.

15. What is "placemaking"?

  • Placemaking can be defined as the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, play, and learn in.

16. My business is in the manufacturing industry. How does the city define "Heritage Industrial"?

  • The city defines “Heritage Industrial” as those manufacturing sites that meet one or more of the following:
    • Preserves industrial culture or processes from the past
    • Contributes to a sense of identity or continuity to the community
    • Provides or retains jobs in Denver

17. Will application assistance be provided?

  • Interested in learning more about the Legacy Business program? Join one of our information sessions. Registration links and dates can be found on the program page under the ‘Information Sessions’ section. Spanish and Vietnamese interpretation will be provided.

18. I am having issues logging in and/or creating a profile in the application portal. How can I fix this?

  •  The online application works best using Google Chrome. Apple products are not optimal devices, but technical issues can be resolved by closing the webpage, clearing the cache, and continuing to use Google Chrome. 
  • Additionally, error messages may appear when there are some invalid characters in the email, so be sure there are no spaces before or after the email address. If the email was automatically entered by the browser, delete the email address and manual type it in correctly, to avoid the error. The use of a computer or laptop is preferred instead of using a phone or tablet.
  • Please be sure to visit all eligibility requirements in the ‘eligibility tab’ prior to applying.

19. Are nonprofits eligible for this program?

  • No, this program is specifically offered to small (for-profit) businesses only

20. Will my application materials be confidential? 

Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) utilizes the web-based platform, Zengine, to collect external data from partners, applicants, proposers, and businesses in Denver. Along with the internal data security policies that DEDO maintains, Zengine maintains a robust set of security certificates, policies and procedures. All data collected are maintained in the database system under permissions only granted to DEDO staff administering the program. Application review portals are only granted access to the Legacy Business evaluation committee who sign a Confidentiality Statement and Disclosure of Conflict of Interest.

Data collected are standard business organization information collected across all DEDO programs for consistent reporting and are used to better inform future program design and assess program success. If shared, publicly acceptable data are only shared in aggregate and personal identifying information will be protected in any public analysis.

The information provided and any other documents submitted within an application may be subject to the Colorado Open Records Act, but the City will not disclose those specific elements in each application that the Applicant in good faith plainly marks as “Trade Secret” or “Confidential Commercial/Financial Information”, unless disclosure is otherwise required by law.