DENVER — Denver has established an initial relief fund of $4 million to soften the blow for small businesses suffering in the wake of the closures caused by COVID-19.

This comes just days after Gov. Jared Polis sent a letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the pursuit of funds offering relief for Colorado’s small businesses.

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The emergency relief fund, announced by Denver Economic Development and Opportunity on Thursday, promises to provide up to $7,500 to qualifying small businesses. Those impacted by the pandemic the most — such as the food industry — will be first in line to receive the funds.

The grants are intended to stabilize businesses that have had to temporarily close, those that are struggling to pay rent or those who have had to lay off employees, according to the release.

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The funds will be distributed by Mile High United Way and Downtown Denver Partnership. The organizations also said they are seeking to expand the relief fund through donations in collaboration with the city.

Relief will not only be offered to small businesses — certain artists can qualify for grants as well. Denver Arts & Venues will give up to $1,000 to artists who have been greatly affected by the cancellation of performances, classes and events.

Those who think they qualify can click here to apply for the grants.

Polis’ office announced Tuesday that the governor wrote a letter to the SBA seeking federal funding, with the intention that it will provide some relief for Colorado’s small businesses. The letter specifically requests SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans for Alamosa, Baca, Denver, Eagle, El Paso, Gunnison, Jefferson, Larimer, La Plata, Las Animas, Lincoln, Logan, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Routt and San Miguel counties, in addition to the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribal nations.

The SBA has the authority to offer up to $2 million in low-interest loans to the small businesses negatively impacted by the virus. If successful, the letter could unlock billions in emergency loans for the businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We will get through this together and I urge the federal government to quickly approve our loan application so we can provide relief to the state’s small business community during this global pandemic,” Polis said in a news release.

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