How Centennial spent its CARES Act dollars

Rent, mortgage, utility assistance still available via county, city funding

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How does a city spend $10 million to prevent its economy from crumbling under the weight of the pandemic?

A report by the city, released in March, lays out how businesses across the city received funding to stay afloat — along with nonprofits, senior homes and other community institutions.

The dollars arrived as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act. That's the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill signed into law in March 2020.

Arapahoe County received $114 million in “Coronavirus Relief Funds” under that law, and the county distributed nearly half of that funding to its cities and towns based on population. The City of Centennial received roughly $10 million, according to the city report.

The city and county also worked to distribute rent, mortgage and utility bill assistance, which is still available. Households may apply for assistance here.

Here's a look at how Centennial spent its funding under the CARES Act, according to the city report.

Small business

A map of businesses that received grants showed locations scattered throughout Centennial, with many concentrated in the business-dense central region of the city.

Among the names that might be familiar to residents are the Crawfish Boil Co. Restaurant and Bar in The Streets at SouthGlenn outdoor mall. Also listed is Toley's On The Creek, a bar and grill on Smoky Hill Road in the city's east end.

The city offered businesses two types of funding: The first, “Business Interruption Grants,” worked to replace lost revenue and cover expenses such as lease and mortgage payments, payroll, and equipment necessary to operate businesses.

Those grants provided for-profit businesses a maximum of $20,000 between two rounds of funding.

Home-based for-profit businesses were able to receive a maximum of $5,000 between two rounds of funding, and nonprofits with commercial locations in Centennial were eligible for $2,500. Home-based nonprofits were able to receive $1,000.

The second type of funding, “Business Infrastructure and Personal Protective Equipment Grants,” was aimed at spending that businesses put forth to comply with public health orders. Expenses could include patio expansions, touchless payment systems, online ordering platforms, personal protective equipment, or PPE, and safety training. Those grants provided a maximum of $20,000.

All told, about $9 million went to small-business assistance.

Nonprofits

The city also provided grants to help nonprofits that provide services to Centennial residents. A maximum of $50,000 was available to each organization.

Eligible nonprofits were those that provided services related to the response to COVID-19, such as housing assistance, utility assistance, food programs, health services and delivery services for individuals defined as high risk for COVID-19, among other efforts.

A total of about $249,000 went to nonprofits, including Integrated Family Community Services, a staple of low-income assistance for families in the south Denver metro area.

Nursing homes, other care facilities

Centennial also provided funding to residential care settings — such as nursing homes, assisted living locations, group homes and other care facilities — that serve those at high risk for COVID-19 in Centennial. A maximum of $30,000 was awarded for each organization for a total of $232,000.

Job training

The city partnered with Arapahoe Community College to provide the “Live Local, Learn Local, and Work Local COVID-19 Displaced Worker Career Boot Camp.” The program offered job training to Centennial residents displaced from employment during the pandemic. It included resources such as job shadowing and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, digital skills, and advising and career counseling. The city contributed $100,000.

Participants who completed the “boot camp” received Arapahoe Community College tuition credit through the Arapahoe Community College Foundation.

Chambers of commerce

Part of the city's funding worked to support the local chambers of commerce, organizations that promote the interests of local businesses.

The chambers had experienced dramatic reductions in revenue due to the pandemic's impact on members, while at the same time, the need for small-business support was increasing, the report says.

The city's funding went to the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, where Centennial businesses comprise approximately 12% of total membership, and the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, where Centennial businesses comprise approximately 36% of total membership, according to the report. The city contributed $80,000.

City funding

Centennial spent about $598,000 on adjusting city facilities to the pandemic. That included a disinfectant-spraying program and remodeling areas of the Centennial Civic Center — the city hall — and the city's Eagle Street public works facility to accommodate social distancing.

Centennial also installed ionization filters on all heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units at both facilities.

The city also enhanced the audio and visual equipment at the Eagle Street facility to adhere to social distancing and virtual meetings.

Other funding went to eligible teleworking expenses, along with reimbursement for staff time associated with administering the Centennial CARES grant programs. Only a portion of eligible city staff expenses — approximately 40% — were requested for reimbursement, the report says.

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