Across Colorado, in our bigger cities and our smaller rural and mountain towns, small businesses sit at the heart of the community. They drive economic activity, promote opportunity for both owners and employees, and shape the character and spirit of their neighborhoods. By the numbers, small businesses represent 99.5% of all businesses in Colorado and employ 48.1% of the state’s workforce.
It will take years to understand the full impact of the pandemic, but we know that our local small businesses are hurting. A Colorado OEDIT survey found that over 40% of businesses that are still open have seen their sales drop by more than 50%, and over half of all businesses in the state expect that this year’s revenue will be at least 25% less than what they projected. The pain has been most acute for the state’s smallest businesses, which entered the pandemic with fewer resources and have faced the largest drop in sales, and we believe this initial data is still understating the impact on the smallest and most diverse businesses.
Government recovery efforts have been inadequate and, in many cases, have actually compounded the weaknesses that already existed in our small business economy. Even before the pandemic, micro businesses (those with fewer than 5 employees) and businesses owned by women, people of color, and returning citizens faced disparities in revenue and access to capital. The inequitable structure of programs like the PPP loans has served to exacerbate those disparities, shutting out the very businesses that need relief the most.
Because of their central role in the economy, the strength of our small businesses will determine the strength of our state’s recovery. We know small business owners want to help their communities thrive – we hear it all the time from the entrepreneurs we work with. But they need more support to do so. RMMFI was built on the belief that the healthiest economy is an inclusive one, and we’ve spent 12 years developing holistic tools that address the true barriers to small business success.