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Chamber Report: Rescue Funds Assist Pueblo Residents

The main goal of these projects is to improve community's overall quality of life.

By Kevin Litwin on June 15, 2022

The Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce in Colorado
Jeff Adkins

To help address the negative toll of COVID-19, the American Rescue Plan Act provided $350 billion in emergency funding for local, state, territorial and tribal governments to assist their communities – from helping small businesses to investing in infrastructure. Pueblo, CO, will use its funds (the city received about $37 million; the county received about $32 million) to help improve the region’s quality of life.

Pueblo County, for example, will work to improve drinking water systems in communities, such as Beulah Valley, Boone, Colorado City and Rye. Officials have until 2026 to spend their allotment.

About the Chamber

The Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce serves as the voice and advocate of the business community. The staff works year-round offering various member services and events, including Business During Lunch and After Hours, leadership development, the Legislative Breakfast series, and convention and visitor services.

Pueblo Proposals

The City of Pueblo is taking a bit of a different approach to its spending. So far, committees have been formed to develop proposals for spending the money in seven areas. These include things that benefit area youth, nonprofits, tourism and hospitality, small businesses, infrastructure, community resilience, and individuals and households.

Committee members send their proposals to Mayor Nick Gradisar, whose office approves or rejects them. If approved, a proposal is then studied by the Pueblo City Council where it is ultimately approved or rejected.

“We have a leadership team in our office to monitor proposals submitted by the committees, and as of early 2022, the council had passed about $6 million in proposals,” Gradisar says. “One of the proposals was getting vans for the Boys & Girls Clubs.”

Perusing Pages

Gradisar also crafted a proposal to give $100 to every Pueblo child ages 0-17 who reads 10 books over the summer of 2021. He plans to approach the council with the same initiative for the summer of 2022.

“The city and county contributed $500,000 of their funds apiece for that initiative, and we paid every child who read their 10 books that they checked out from the library district,” he says.

Other Proposals

Another proposal would result in the hiring of four mental health professionals who would assist police officers when responding to calls where there might be mental health concerns. Yet another proposal called History Colorado would help museums affected by COVID-19.

“The whole goal is to have a fair, equitable and transparent process to distribute funds, and the mayor’s office is doing a good job,” says Donielle Kitzman, vice president of Visit Pueblo and the Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s really hard vetting all these proposals knowing that not everything could be accepted. All of the proposals have such need and do so much good, so there are tough decisions for the mayor and city council to make – all while looking at the total bank account.”

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