Denver Seeks Volunteers for 5-Star Certification Program

We should be proud, Colorado – proud of everything we have done to protect ourselves and our neighbors from this pandemic. That includes employers who have gone to extraordinary efforts to keep their employees and customer safe.

We’re far from out of the woods. Our health care workers know this better than anyone and we can’t thank them enough for all they’re doing to care for our loved ones.

Although Colorado’s numbers have been trending down again, much of the rest of the nation is facing widespread infection rates and hospitals exceeding their capacity. We’re also all monitoring new virus variants that are more contagious than what we’ve already seen.

That means that although we all want to see our businesses begin opening up again, we must do it as safely as possible. That’s why the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment created the Five-Star Variance Program. This program allows businesses to apply for certification that indicates that they are implementing measures beyond what public health orders and guidelines already require in their counties. With that certification, businesses can expand their operations and increase their customer capacities.

The City and County of Denver applied to the state to allow Five-Star Certification on New Year’s Eve, and now in preparation for approval, they need our help.

As many as 7,000 businesses in Denver may be eligible for certification and as many as half of those are expected to apply. That includes restaurants and bars, retail shops, hotels, event venues and gyms.

To meet that demand, VISIT DENVER, Denver Mayor Hancock’s Economic Relief and Recovery Council and Denver’s Economic Development and Opportunity Department are seeking 150 volunteers to inspect businesses for certification. Volunteers will be asked to work a minimum of 20 hours a week for five weeks. Read volunteer guidelines.

If you have employees who would be willing to volunteer, VISIT Denver asks you to send the following information to by Wednesday, Jan. 13.

  • Company Name
  • Contact
  • Contact email
  • Contact phone
  • Number of employees who can commit to a minimum of 20 hours a week for five weeks

VISIT DENVER will follow up with an individual volunteer application for your team members to complete.

This is one more way we can support each other, help employers stay open and keep employees on payroll, all while keeping our community safe in this pandemic.

New Federal and State COVID Relief Funding Available

Small businesses can once again apply for federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans – beginning today for community financial institutions and Wednesday for all other participating lenders. Congress approved $284 billion in PPP funding nationally as part of its latest COVID relief bill.

Whether you’ve already received PPP funding or are a new applicant, our Denver Metro Small Business Development Center can help you find the information you need to apply. Contact them today at 303-620-8076 or You can also review a list of participating Colorado Community Development Financial Institutions.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs also has $35.15 million in funding for small businesses. Restaurants and bars, including distilleries, wineries and breweries, caterers, movie theaters and fitness or recreational sports centers are eligible to apply but they must do so through their county, municipality or council of government. Front Range counties that already have applications available are:

Learn more about these and other small business funding programs on the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Trade website or on our COVID website at

Stay safe and be well.

Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.