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Applications for Denver's 5 Star Program open Tuesday

Tuesday, the city received more than 500 applications. The program will allow certified businesses to increase their capacity after meeting certain safety measures.

DENVER — The City and County of Denver began accepting applications for its 5 Star Certification Program Tuesday morning. By the end of the day, the city received more than 300 applications.  The first round of applicants will be capped at 500 businesses and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Kitty Vincent, the owner of Revolver, a hair salon in Denver, was one of the first to apply.

"I think it's a good step to take and I think that certifying businesses who are working very hard makes a difference, because not everyone is.", said Vincent. She says the 5 Star Certification Program offers peace of mind for her clients and employees.

"If the city is operating at 25, I'd like to be able to operate at 50 just to keep my stylists making the money that they need to make.", said Vincent. 

Denver has been conditionally approved for the program, which allows certified businesses to increase their capacity after meeting certain safety measures, but has not yet implemented the program because COVID-19 numbers are too high.

Denver must maintain seven days of stable or declining Level Orange metrics as defined by CDPHE before the program can be fully implemented. Applications will be open for pre-certification only to begin with, according to the city. 

Businesses that have had limitations put on them due to public health orders are eligible to apply for the program, including general business, personal services, indoor events, restaurants and gyms. Pre-certified businesses will be notified when the program takes effect and will be issued their official certification at that time, according to the city.

Unlike most counties with the 5 Star Program, Denver will require businesses to pay a fee to apply. The Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) office said businesses that made less than $1 million in 2019 will be charged $25. Businesses that made more than $5 million must pay $150 to apply.  

"Our agency since the beginning of COVID has run multiple grant programs for businesses and nonprofits," said Eric Hiraga. executive director of DEDO. "What we found was without that small fee, we are the city and county of Denver and most of our applicants are coming from outside of the city and even outside of the state." 

The application fees will also help offset the cost of the third-party contractor hired to help roll out the program quickly, DEDO said.  

After closing the first round of applications, Hiraga says they will look at the data of businesses applying before opening the next application. 

"We want to take data from the first 500 applications and see if there were any barriers to our application process. We'll take a look at zip codes and our neighborhoods...so we don't want any communities of color or any of our vulnerable communities left behind.", said Hiraga. 

Businesses are urged to begin preparing now if they're interested in the program by watching a video that can be found at Denver5star.org.

The city held  three virtual live Town Halls this week to help businesses prepare for certification. Those recording can be found on their website. 

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