City spending $1.5M in federal funds to send PPE kits to small businesses

hand sanitizer

A bottle of hand sanitizer. (Wikipedia)

In an effort to provide relief for small businesses and nonprofits, Denver soon will be handing out approximately 4,000 personal protective equipment kits for free.

On Monday, City Council approved a contract with Parker-based OraLabs to utilize $1.5 million of federal emergency funds to procure materials such as hand sanitizer and non-contact thermometers for organizations with 25 employees or fewer.

Out of the 35,000 businesses in Denver, around 30,000 have 25 employees or fewer, according to Jazmin Harper, research analyst for Denver Economic Development & Opportunity, which is the city department leading the program.

“We conducted surveys with the small business community and held various town halls, and we’ve heard that access to PPE is a huge concern for small businesses, who don’t have strong ties to vendors in the area,” Harper said. “We decided that providing these free PPE kits is one way to offset some of the unexpected expenses that businesses have struggled with during this time.”

The city will use $10,000 for educational materials and public outreach, and the remaining $1.49 million will go toward the equipment.

Each kit, which is valued at approximately $330, will include:

  • – One 64-ounce hand sanitizer
    – 40 one-ounce hand sanitizers
    – One gallon of surface disinfectant
    – 100 surgical masks
    – One non-contact thermometer
    – 10 face shields

OraLabs, which manufactures personal care products, is making the hand sanitizer itself and procuring the other items to ship directly to businesses.

Small businesses and nonprofits in Denver will be able to apply for a kit on the city’s website starting Aug. 3. Materials will be available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. To be eligible, the business can have no more than 25 employees, and must have been operating prior to March. No documents are required.

The decision process for eligible businesses to receive kits is “first come, first serve,” Harper said, since funds allow for approximately 4,000 kits. The city hopes to send out equipment within two to three weeks of a qualified business’ application.

“We’re hoping to get through the 4,000 as soon as possible,” Harper said. “There’s certainly a demand from what we’re hearing, and hopefully, this program will be successful so we can keep thinking about how we can provide more PPE.”

Council voted 11-1 to approve the spending, with Councilwoman Debbie Ortega absent. Councilman Chris Hinds, the sole dissenting vote, said he feels the city should be directing more federal relief funds toward first responders.

“I want to make sure we’re considering all of our vulnerable communities, not just our small businesses and nonprofits,” Hinds said.

hand sanitizer

A bottle of hand sanitizer. (Wikipedia)

Organizations with 25 or fewer employees can apply for one of the 4,000 kits come August.

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