Alliance was designed with COVID-19 restrictions in mind. People can get help virtually or in person. When they walk in, they’re greeted with a chime as the door swings open.
Office staff take people’s temperature and ask them to fill out a questionnaire about exposure to the coronavirus. They’re then able to take advantage of a workspace that’s clean, socially distanced and divided with plexiglass.
Business owners have access to education through free workshops and technology like laptops, Martinez said. Counselors are also available to advise business owners and help them apply for grants or other aid.
So far, Alliance has provided assistance to more than 50 businesses, primarily with less than five employees and minority-owned. More than $4 million in grants have been issued.
Although the workspace is located in Thornton, Martinez pointed out that it’s not exclusive to businesses in Adams County. She said the county has always had a gap in providing resources like this to small mom and pop shops, but especially to Spanish-speakers.
“This is a community that’s been underserved and the resources have not been as available for them as we provide an English speaking,” she said. “We definitely see that they’re taking advantage of this and they appreciate the opportunity to have bilingual staff.”
Mi Casa Resource Center and other partners work with Alliance and provide feedback about how the center can support traditionally underrepresented communities.
Andy Figueroa, with Mi Casa, is one bilingual business consultant who helps connect Latinx business owners with the center’s resources. He said some of the people he works with are afraid to ask the city for help. They’re worried about things like language barriers.
“They thought that the grants were not available to them,” Figueroa said. “We had to be proactive and go out to the community and talk to the business owners and say, ‘Hey, you don’t need to be documented. You don’t have to have a legal residence in the United States to access these funds.’”
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