Longmont City Councilmembers voted against awarding Entrepreneurship For All (EforAll) a request for funds to aid the organization’s fundraising efforts.
On Tuesday evening David Parker, EforAll CEO, and Harris Rollinger, Executive Director for EforAll Longmont, presented an overview of what the organization has accomplished in Longmont since they last spoke at City Council in August 2019.
The presentation ended with an ask of $50,000. Rollinger stated that “having foundational support from local government is crucial for our long-term success, and to have your sign off in that you believe in EforAll and what we are doing in this community.”
Councilmember Marcia Martin made a motion early in the discussion to direct staff to find some allocation of funds to “get EforAll boosted between now and the end of the year.” However, the motion was later mutually amended by her and Councilmember Bonnie Finley to use $30,000 from Council contingency funds as grant funding for EforAll.
The final vote was 5 to 2 against, with Mayor Brian Bagley and Councilmembers Tim Waters, Joan Peck, Polly Christensen, and Aren Rodriguez dissenting.
Mayor Bagley and other Councilmembers’ point of contention was that voting for this would set a precedent in not following an already established city process for nonprofits to be granted funds.
“Why tonight are we giving them money versus every other nonprofit? If we are going to vote for it, why are we not following that process and why are we doing this,” asked Mayor Bagley to his fellow councilmembers.
Councilmember Waters agreed and stated that the “concern is not the value of what they are doing, but procedurally, that drops a whole new variable into the process.”
Councilmember Rodriguez also agreed stating that “previous iteration of councils had already set a precedent” and that he “would not be willing to vote for it unless we apply the same kind of benchmarks that we applied to the Latino chamber when they asked for money for a similar kind of program.”
As a potential funding mechanism, Councilmember Finley recalled that there are CDBG funds “for economic development and that they always go unused” and asked staff if she was “remembering that correctly.”
Kathy Fedler, Housing and Community Investment Manager for the City of Longmont, chimed in stating that funding for economic development is only available if the City of Longmont sets a budget for it.
“The past several years we’ve only allocated funding for housing as our greatest need, so all of the funding has gone for housing projects,” said Fedler.
Fedler continued stating that they considered EforAll during this years’ second-quarter funding cycle and that “the Housing Advisory Board felt that the project already had great private community support but were concerned about it [EforAll] being a startup and that there were redundancies with similar existing services like the Small Business Development Center and the Colorado Enterprise Fund.”
“There was also concern about EforAlls business model and the program’s ability to weather an economic downturn,” continued Fedler.
Out of the organization’s $300,000 budget, Rollinger stated that they have so far raised approximately $215,000 from corporations, foundations, individuals, and other community organizations.
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