GJACC Expresses Concern with Federal Legislation
The Chamber in late July contacted Senator Michael Bennet to express our concerns regarding conversations to integrate California’s ABC test rule for independent contractors at the federal level. The classification of independent contractors has been under scrutiny at the state level as well this year.
Right now, there are several proposals before Congress that would incorporate into federal law an ABC test, similar to that enacted by the AB5 bill in California. AB5 created a one size-fits-all approach to classifying contract workers as employees. The “B” prong of California’s ABC test is particularly problematic. It holds that a worker cannot be an independent contractor if the work they perform falls within the “usual course of the business of the employer.”
This test is very different from the approach taken in Colorado today and would likely turn most independent workers into employees. The ABC test is not capable of distinguishing between a worker who has chosen to be an independent contractor and one who has not and is at risk of exploitation. It classifies both as “employees.” An employee classification can severely harm a worker who has chosen to be an independent contractor and is essentially a small business owner. The Chamber actually have many members who are single owner/operators by choice.
Although as an organization we agree worker classification issues exist in some cases, applying the ABC test this broadly and nationally without exemptions is not the right solution for this problem. We asked the Senator to reconsider incorporating this test into federal proposals.
Mesa County Recovery Roadmap Project Begins
The Mesa County ED First Responder Team, with the City of Fruita as lead agency, applied last spring to be selected as one 16 Regional Community Teams to develop our own “Rural Colorado COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap Plan” (“Recovery Roadmap” for short). Our application was successful and we will soon be embarking on a multi-pronged three phase planning approach with assistance from several state agencies and Community Builders to plan for our future economy. Areas of focus identified by our group in application included workforce development, affordable/attainable housing, and broadband deployment.
Phase One dubbed Groundwork will allow us to do a baseline assessment of where our economy is now utilizing state resources including the State Demography Office, Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Recently completed local efforts like the City of Grand Junction Housing Needs Assessment will also be utilized. In Phase two planning for a Final Roadmap for Mesa County will be developed that will be data-informed, fast-moving, and action-oriented. Phase three is where the rubber meets the road in terms of in terms of a pipeline of projects to help our local economy grow. Support for statewide partners in execution of these projects will be on going.
Mesa County ED First Responders are excited to move beyond COVID-19 Response and Mitigation of impacts on our businesses to planning for the future. Members include; GJ Chamber, Fruita Chamber, Palisade Chamber, GJEP, Mesa County, City of Grand Junction, City of Fruita, Town of Palisade, Town of Debeque, Town of Collbran, Colorado Mesa University, School District 51 and Mesa County Public Health.
Economic Recovery Funding Now Available for Small Businesses!
During the 2021 Colorado General Assembly Session there were 12 bills passed that appropriated $228 million funding to support economic recovery efforts. Not all program details have been finalized for all the grant/loan programs so Chamber members are urged to learn more about the programs and sign up for COVID-19 email updates on the various programs at https://oedit.colorado.gov/covid19 .
Here is a listing of current programs with open applications:
CLIMBER Loan Fund
Applications are open.
The Colorado Loans for Increasing Mainstreet Business and Economic Recovery (CLIMBER) fund provides $250 million to small businesses with working capital loans between $30,000 and $500,000. Below-market interest rates and a 1-year deferred payment option make the program a secure recovery option for small businesses.
Colorado Revolving Loan Fund
Applications are open.
This fund provides loans that help small to medium-sized Colorado businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These loans range from $5,000 to $750,000. The loans are intended to provide startup and working capital that will help create and retain jobs across Colorado.
Meeting and Events Incentive
Applications are open.
This program provides $10 million for a 10% cash rebate against eligible hard costs for hosting meetings and events in Colorado that take place on or after July 1, 2021 and on or before December 31, 2022.
Restart Industry Associations Program
Applications are open and close on August 26, 2021.
This program provides awarded tourism industry associations 75 hours of technical assistance and $10,000 of direct marketing from the Colorado Tourism Office to support adoption of the Roadmap to Recovery.