Denver City Council Approves $ 1.5 Million in Grants for Hotel and Food Service Workers

DENVER – Denver City Council on Monday night approved $ 1.5 million in federal grants for workers in restaurants, hotels, bars, and catering and event businesses – among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic.

The “Denver back to work” grants of up to $ 10,000 for each employer will be distributed by the Colorado Restaurant Foundation and the Colorado Event Alliance. The former will distribute up to $ 1 million for restaurants and hotels, and the Colorado Event Alliance will administer up to $ 500,000 to caterers and event companies.

Companies in these industries will need to apply for the grants from each respective organization. The city and organizations expect that if all grant funding is used, the program could affect 140 employers and up to 950 workers.

Only employers located in the city and county of Denver will be able to apply for the grants, which must go entirely to workers. Workers won’t have to live in Denver for the company to apply for a grant.

“Grants that employers pass directly to their workers are the best short-term solution we know of to immediately improve the climate for recovery and growth,” said Eric Hiraga, executive director of the Denver Office of Economic Development and Opportunity, in a statement.

The accommodation and food services industry – which these types of businesses are a part of – lost the most jobs in the early days of the pandemic and has since recovered the most jobs among Colorado industries. But a budget forecast released last week by Legislative Council Staff showed the industry still lags more than 25,000 jobs behind pre-pandemic levels.

The Colorado Restaurant Association’s July and August survey showed that about a quarter of restaurants were planning to shut down permanently due to a labor shortage.

The similar Angels Relief Fund awarded $ 3 million last year to more than 3,000 workers in the hotel and restaurant industry.

The city said employers who wish to participate in Denver’s return to work program should contact the Colorado Restaurant Foundation and Colorado Event Alliance for more information.

“We know these grants will go a long way in helping restaurants recruit more staff at this critical time,” Laura Shunk, president of the Colorado Restaurant Foundation, said in a statement. “It’s also important to note that these grants can be used for more than hiring and retention. If workers need help paying for child care or housing, two underlying systemic issues that plague labor shortages, subsidies can be used to cover those costs. “

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