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Denver businesses can save thousands through Business License Hearing Fund, deadline to apply approaching soon

Businesses receive financial support from program to help those applying for liquor or cannabis lice
Businesses receive financial support from program to help those applying for liquor or cannabis lice 02:59

Some businesses in Denver are getting financial support from a city program that can save them thousands of dollars.

A Business License Hearing Fund program provides upwards of $10,000 to help with the expensive process of applying for a liquor, cannabis or cabaret license.

It can be pretty expensive, even for a Denver flower shop that's looking to host workshops and create a safe social space for locals.

Rowdy Poppy is a new floral design micro-farm located in the Five Points neighborhood and is one of many Denver businesses that were able to get that financial help.

The owner, Kim Zimmerman, says she had no idea this assistance was available to her until she was informed by her attorney. The process to apply was long, but the response she received was quick. She says she's more than happy to finally be in her new space and bring joy to people in the community through their flowers.

"You are never going to have a bad day giving someone flowers," she said.

Kim Zimmerman CBS

A business that began selling flowers on the sidewalk during COVID-19 has now turned into a space where individuals can be creative and let loose.

Flowers and a glass of wine or champagne are what you can expect at Rowdy Poppy workshops.

"For us having a liquor license is a way to make it more of an experience not just coming to take a class but a joyful experience for everyone," said Zimmerman.

However, for people to be able to drink in this space, Zimmerman had to go through a public hearing process.

"We had to have a hearing online with a judge, get signatures from all kinds of businesses and residents in the area, pay a lot of fees," said Zimmerman.

It's a costly process that took Zimmerman a little over six months. Last week, they had another inspection before getting their liquor license, now seen inside the business.

"We were told in the beginning to estimate about $10,000 for the whole process, so we had budgeted that," she said.

After finding out about the program, Zimmerman was able to save $6,000 in legal fees thanks to the Business License Hearing Fund.

"I was ecstatic because that was money we had budgeted for, but it could definitely go to other places like any small business knows," said Zimmerman.

It's a project of love now blooming in the historic Five Points neighborhood, where Zimmerman hopes to host flower decorating workshops and grow the community.

"Our goal is to just have a thriving community of people who want to come play with flowers, grow flowers," said Zimmerman.

Guests can now also enjoy a drink or two while doing so.

Rowdy Poppy describes their business as a sustainable, eco-conscious, responsibly sourced floral design house and micro-farm.

So far this year, the city has seen 14 applications and seven have been eligible, with more than $50,000 in grants awarded so far, according to the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. However, there is still enough funding for people to be awarded to reimburse their legal expenses.

Denver does require a "needs and desires" hearing for every business that applies for a marijuana or liquor license. Liquor license applications are mostly from bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels, although, other businesses such as flower shops can also apply.

The city says they hope to exhaust all $100,000 in funds to help businesses in Denver.

The program is part of the city's overall effort to bring more equitable access to business licensing in Denver.

"Up to $10,000 in legal reimbursement can make a major difference for someone starting a business that is required to participate in a public hearing and can make a major difference in the ability of a registered neighborhood organization to make sure their neighborhood can successfully participate so the voices in their community are represented," said Eric Escudero, spokesperson for the Department of Excise and Licenses.

Registered Neighborhood Organizations in the city are also eligible to apply if they have legal costs associated with participating in a required hearing.

The June 30 deadline is quickly approaching.

For more information about the program or to apply, visit the city's website.

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