AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) – In the local Senate race that is grabbing national headlines, both candidates made a play for protections for small businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper was in Aurora Wednesday touring minority-owned businesses. Sen. Cory Gardner was in Washington, going over the latest proposal for the next round of COVID-19 relief.
Hickenlooper stopped by four minority-owned businesses in Aurora to see how they were faring during the pandemic.
“They get such a smaller amount of support from the federal government. Why is it that they seem to end up in the back of the line so by the time their application came to the top, the money was gone?” Hickenlooper said.
Gardner said he has been working to ensure COVID-19 relief funding is accessible for everyone.
“We’ve got to make sure that we expand our support to minority-owned businesses. That’s why I fought to successfully get community development financial institutions (CDFI) lenders, non-traditional lenders, included into support for the Paycheck Protection Program so they can reach out to underbanked or unbanked communities across Colorado,” Gardener said.
Some business owners say they got nothing from the past relief package.
“I don’t know any other small business owners that haven’t gotten any funding after applying. I myself haven’t received any funding,” said Shaunte Baker of Specialists Barber’s Club Barbershop.
The former governor said reports of the lack of funding for minority-owned businesses was the reason he paid a visit in the middle of the pandemic.
“Cory Gardner has been AWOL, he’s been absent without leave in terms of really helping minority-owned businesses and certainly with a lot of the divisive language that’s come out of the White House, Sen. Gardner hasn’t said a word,” he said.
Gardner is pushing for the latest coronavirus relief bill that would help small businesses. The bill includes a spending plan of about $300 billion. The HEROES Act that brought relief in May cost about $3 trillion. The Senate could vote on the new measure as early as Thursday.