Small Business Support
With a booming economy and large new companies flocking to Boulder, it's more important than ever to take care of our small businesses. Most of us can name a handful of our favorite mom-and-pop shops that have shut down in recent years. In talking with dozens of small business owners throughout Boulder, there are two major themes which emerge repeatedly as challenges:
1. Increasing Cost; 2. Lack of Affordable Employee Housing.
I have written extensively about affordable housing, so I will focus on ways that we can help alleviate the cost burden. Not all of these methods need to happen at once, but a combination of at least two would help preserve our small businesses, which are an essential part of the character of our City.
1. Extend the City's Flexible Rebate Program to small businesses, not just high impact primary employees (primary employers are defined as businesses that receive 50% or more of their revenues from outside Boulder County). Through our flexible rebate program, "the city manager can approve rebates for building permit taxes and fees paid to the city, as well as city sales and use taxes paid on fixed asset purchases." I would like to extend this to small businesses as well!
2. Create a real estate tax rebate program for small businesses. Because of the prevalence of triple net leases in Boulder, whether a small business owns or rents, they pay real estate taxes. Boulder's real estate taxes are significantly higher for commerical than they are for residential. I have talked with small businesses who pay $10,000 a month in real estate taxes alone (and that's before rent, improvements, fees,etc). I would like to see a rebate program for real estate taxes put in place for small businesses.
3. Help create opportunities for smaller, more affordable commercials spaces in Downtown Boulder. I would love to see the City of Boulder work with Downtown Boulder to encourage business owners to cut large spaces in half in order to create smaller front spaces that are more suitable for smaller companies AND back, alley entrance spaces that will be naturally lower cost due to their location. Think of the alley culture in New Orleans, Venice, or other incredible cities. The City of Boulder could help with this by working with business owners on trash collection and some alley clean-up. These alley spaces that are more affordable would be perfect for art galleries, small funky shops, and more!
4. Explore the possibility of permanently affordable commercial space. Our permanently affordable housing program helps keep low income individuals in Boulder, and a permanently affordable commercial program could help keep lower income businesses in Boulder. I would like to further explore this possibility - possible funding mechanisms, timeframe, feasibility, effect, etc.