First National Bank donates $500k to Larimer COVID loan fund

The Larimer County Small Business Recovery Loan Fund received another infusion of cash Wednesday when First National Bank of Omaha contributed $500,000 to the $5 million fund.

The contribution to the fund was part of more than $2.5 million in grants that the bank directed toward COVID-19 relief in the Northern Colorado region. 

The Larimer loan fund was announced in April and seeded with $2 million from the city of Fort Collins, the Bohemian Foundation and the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. The remaining $3 million of the $5 million fund, to be administered by the Colorado Enterprise Fund, was to be gathered from businesses, foundations and governments elsewhere in Larimer County.

The fund began to accept applications from small businesses for low interest loans April 27.

Contributions toward the $3 million remaining to be committed have been slow in coming. The FNBO contribution is the first to be publicly announced.

As reported during the NoCo Strong for Business conference call Wednesday, some communities are looking at making contributions but have yet to do so.

Loveland is “working to identify city funding” to contribute to the Larimer loan fund, said deputy city manager Rod Wensing. The council was supposed to consider a $100,000 contribution to the fund on Tuesday night but ran out of time at its meeting.

Windsor, which sits in both Larimer and Weld counties, is considering a contribution of uncertain size to the Larimer loan fund, said Stacy Miller, the economic development director for the town.

Wellington’s Chamber of Commerce and Main Street program plan to contribute to the loan fund, said Michelle Vance, economic development manager for the town.

Estes Park has its own business relief fund, as do Berthoud and Johnstown. 

“A number of communities and partners across the county are considering contributions. Each community has a different process and timeline.  We are having positive conversations,” said Carrie Hanson, director of development for the Colorado Enterprise Fund, in an email. 

In addition to the $500,000 that FNBO committed to the Larimer fund, the bank also directed $1 million to the Colorado Enterprise Fund for use in funding Paycheck Protection Program loans that the CEF would administer. The PPP loans include a loan forgiveness component that was part of the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security Act. Those PPP loans through CEF could benefit businesses in Boulder, Broomfield, Adams and Weld counties, in addition to Larimer.

The bank also directed $1 million to DreamSpring, a Denver nonprofit that will use the money to provide small business relief loans in Northern Colorado. DreamSpring specializes in loans and services to “entrepreneurs seeking to realize their dreams,” according to an online description of the organization.

Finally, FNBO contributed $10,000 to the Community Foundation of Boulder County, $15,000 to the United Way of Larimer County and $10,000 to the United Way of Weld County. All three organizations have COVID relief funds meant to benefit nonprofits facing challenges resulting from the pandemic.

Alec Gorynski, vice president of community development for the bank, said another round of grants will be awarded in the spring to focus on workforce issues resulting from the coronavirus spread. He said those grants will help individuals who have been sidelined by economic impacts of the virus to re-enter the workforce.

Editor’s note: This story originally contained an error. It was corrected to include that the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce contributed to the initial $2 million contribution to the loan fund.