Denver City Councilmember Wants to Tax White-Owned Businesses
Denver City Councilmember Wants to Tax White-Owned Businesses

By Elizabeth Dowell

Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca (D) spoke out and called on the Colorado government to increase taxes on white-owned businesses and give that money to black- and brown-owned businesses as a form of reparations.

CdeBaca attended the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance Forum on Thursday and believes that “capitalism was built on stolen land, stolen labor, and stolen resources.”

“And a check today could not undo the cumulative impact of generations of that stolen wealth in all of those categories,” CdeBaca said during the forum. “And so I think it has to come in the form of land, labor, and resources in an ongoing fashion. And there are structures that we have that could be flipped to begin to do that reparation.”

The Bar.Ber.Shop stylist Brenda Escobedo gives Alan Gomez a haircut in Greeley, Colo., on April 28, 2020. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has shown his support for all businesses and announced Capital grants for 56 grant recipients to support small businesses in Colorado through the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program, partnering with the Business Support division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade earlier this year.

“I understand what it’s like to start and grow a business, and we are thrilled to be able to provide this grant to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and veterans across Colorado,” Polis said in a statement. “These exciting grants build upon our work boosting Colorado’s strong economy and supporting small businesses.”

CdeBaca claimed that an economic development plan for the Five Points neighborhood was stealing from the businesses there because it would increase taxes.

“Instead of a bid collecting extra taxation from the black and brown businesses that are struggling, you could be collecting those extra taxes from white-led businesses all over the city and redistributing them to black and brown-owned businesses, who are not part of the bid, or who are simply just black or brown owned,” CdeBaca said. “And that’s one way to give back in the business form fashion. I think when we talk about resources being returned, this is where consumer-owned or municipally-owned resources are important.”

Charlie Kirk shared CdeBaca’s speech on his Twitter and said: “This is evil. This is wrong. This is racist.”

Despite the backlash, state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D) said providing funding to small businesses is what keeps the state’s economy thriving.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and critical drivers for our communities,” Bridges said in a statement. “By helping folks access the capital they need, we’re planting seeds that will help these small business owners expand their operations, grow our economy, and create good-paying jobs so that more Colorado families can thrive.”

China Califf, executive director of the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center, helped implement the Capital training program and says business owners from all backgrounds can get access to funding.

“The funding from SB21-241 is an incredible opportunity for the Small Business Development Center Network to address one of the greatest barriers small businesses face, accessing capital. Our entrepreneurs are developing the knowledge and confidence needed to become lender-ready,” Califf said in a statement.

 CdeBaca also pushed for providing minority business owners with more money to become successful and not only feel the need to survive.

“And we need to go far beyond welfare wages and go to prosperous wages because we don’t want to just survive anymore, and reparations’ goal should not be survival. It should be repairing the harm, which is this entire economy,” CdeBaca concluded.

State Sen. Rhonda Fields (D) says business owners are what makes Colorado a great state, and all business owners will be supported.

“Small businesses represent the heart and soul of Colorado,” Fields said in a statement. “After a challenging few years, small business owners have certainly earned a helping hand when it comes to accessing resources and capital. I’m so pleased that the Small Business Accelerated Growth Program is up and running and that these critical resources are getting out the door and into our communities.”

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