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It’s been three weeks since the Marshall Fire destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in Boulder County, but federal government officials assured locals Wednesday that they’re not being forgotten.

“I want to reassure everyone, especially the small businesses, that we’re not backing away or dropping the ball” on federal support for residents whose livelihoods went up in smoke last month, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper said during the Boulder Chamber Economic Forecast event.

“A good business community is there when you go through hard times and I want to give you my word that we’ll do everything we can to make sure the federal government is an active partner,” he said.

Immediately after the Dec. 30 fire, President Joe Biden untied the federal purse strings when he issued an expedited major disaster declaration.

“What that means is that those who have suffered a loss — small businesses and homeowners — won’t have to wait for a preliminary damage assessment for housing and small-business assistance,” Gov. Jared Polis said at the time.

Such a declaration “provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work,” according to a U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency fact sheet.

“Any business or private, nonprofit organization that is located in a declared disaster area and has incurred damage during the disaster may apply for a loan to help replace damaged property or restore it to the condition it was in before the disaster,” according to FEMA. “If your business or private, nonprofit organization — large or small — has suffered physical damage as a result of a disaster, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. SBA makes physical disaster loans of up to $2 million to qualified businesses or private, nonprofit organizations.”

Federal funds can also be harnessed to help build “resilient infrastructure,” which can include business incubators, tech parks and research facilities, U.S. Economic Development Administration regional director Angela Martinez said Wednesday.

For business rebuilding after the Marshall Fire, “the road ahead will be long and challenging,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo said. “We will stay with you as long as it takes.”

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

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