July 7, 2014; Fox21 News (Manitou Springs, Colorado)

NPQ has written previously about the value of small, locally owned businesses to community life, but there is nothing like almost losing some of them to mobilize folks.

Small businesses in Manitou Springs, Colorado, were devastated by flooding in July and August of 2013, and many are still recovering. So the Pike’s Peak United Way, with support from the United Ways of Colorado and the office of the governor, put a $100,000 fund together to help them. Called the Manitou Springs Small Business Flood Recovery Fund, it has made grants ranging from $5,000–$15,000, using a peer group of businesspeople to make decisions.

“A lot of people just don’t realize how long it takes to do all the renovations after you have water damage,” explained Janice Montoya of the Briarhurst Manor, which received one of the grants. “The mud, it went across the lawn, it filled this in, it filled in a two-and-a-half acre parking lot, it was just incredible.”

Montoya recalled, “We had a dumpster, we had a fridge, a freezer, along with all the branches caught against the bridge on the property. It just squeezed the opening for the flow of water so tight that it flowed all over.”

Fourteen businesses applied and 10 were chosen for their potential to “return to viability” with a grant. Applicants were required to have operated in the area for at least six months prior to the flood. Awardees included:

  • ADAMS MOUNTAIN CAFE: $10,000 for boiler replacement and parking lot repair
  • BRIARHURST MANOR: $15,000 for frontage cleanup and repair of parking lot and landscaping
  • GLASS BLOWERS: $10,000 for flood mitigation, bridge repair, and inventory replacement
  • GOLDMINERS NUTS AND CANDIES: $10,000 for repair of entrance and flooring as well as inventory replacement
  • MANITOU COMMONWHEEL: $15,000 for repair/replacement of equipment and for marketing
  • P.P. INN: $10,000 for flood wall replacement/repair
  • TAJINE ALAMI MOROCCAN RESTAURANT: $10,000 for repair/replacement of the furnace as well as areas affected by water damage
  • SILVER SPARROW BEADS: $5,000 for relocation costs
  • PARK ROW LODGE: $5,000 for repair of retaining wall

“It’s definitely challenging but these businesses have been resilient,” Josh Gates, a Development Manager for Pikes Peak United Way, explained. “A lot of these businesses have been open for 30+ years. This is what they do and they do it well, and we’re just happy the Colorado Flood and Recovery Fund was able to help.”

We have discussed previously the importance of locally owned small business to community well-being and this particular short term effort makes sense to me. What do our readers think?—Ruth McCambridge