Big Win for Denver Small Business Community

Published on November 16, 2023

Mayor Mike Johnston, City Councilman Darrell Watson, and Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) announced the release today of $500,000 in federal funds to support small businesses through grant dollars and technical assistance.

“I see this as a big win for Denver’s small business community,” said British Bulldog owner Mark Berzins. “City leadership really stepped up quickly to find meaningful support for us through this latest economic hardship. Being a business owner is challenging even in the best of times, and this response will help sustain local enterprises to the long-term benefit of our neighborhood and economy.”

Grants up to $15,000 are available for businesses to apply to address ongoing post-pandemic challenges, and this round is focused on small businesses that have been impacted by nearby encampments. This effort complements the city’s House1000 initiative as the city continues to move individuals and families experiencing homelessness indoors and permanently close encampments.

“We know the pandemic struck a major blow to so many Denver businesses, and many continue to face impacts due to encampments,” said Mayor Mike Johnston. “We took this important step of offering more support to ensure these businesses can survive and thrive as we work hard to get all of our neighbors housed and make Denver the best city to live, work, and play.”

The grants are a continuation of DEDO’s Business Impact Opportunity (BIO) Fund, federally funded through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars. Since 2022, over $5.58 million in grant funds have been disbursed through the BIO Fund to support 435 small businesses.

“DEDO has been at the forefront of relief efforts since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Adeeb Khan, DEDO executive director. “Since March 2020, DEDO has released over $35 million in various relief and recovery dollars. With this new round of funding, we remain nimble in how we are meeting the most pressing needs of small businesses in Denver that continue to face challenges caused by the pandemic.”  

As with previous grant rounds, the city’s contracted partner on the program is Mile High United Way, which adds significant capacity in providing technical assistance, one-on-one support for applicants, and managing disbursement of funds to eligible businesses.

“Small businesses are catalysts for social and economic vitality not just in District 9 but throughout our city,” said City Councilman Darrell Watson, District 9. “I appreciate the city coordinating with my office and with community to develop a program that provides some financial relief to these businesses that are so important to the fabric of our community.”

Businesses are encouraged to review eligibility requirements prior to applying. Learn more about information sessions, 1:1 coaching and view the application here. Applications for the current round are open now through Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 5 p.m.

About Denver Economic Development & Opportunity

Denver Economic Development & Opportunity is creating an economy that works for everyone. Learn more at

About American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

The Business Impact Opportunity Fund is funded through Denver’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation included in Mayor Hancock’s 2022 budget. Denver must allocate ARPA local relief funds, totaling $308 million, by the end of 2024 and spend them by the end of 2026. The city solicited and received feedback from over 12,000 residents, Denver City Council, city agencies, the Mayor’s Stimulus Advisory Committee, and the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Council to inform the use of the city’s ARPA allocation. Additionally, more can be seen about progress on the programs in Denver's regularly updated American Rescue Plan Funding Dashboard and story map.