We advocate for small businesses through support with licensing, permitting and landlord issues, among others 

small Business legal clinic

East Colfax and North Aurora local businesses are facing major gentrification challenges. In response to gentrification concerns, EC3, in partnership with volunteer lawyers, who represent private law firms, Denver Access to Justice Committee, Colorado Attorney General’s office, and the Colorado Attorney Mentoring Program, created the EC3 Small Business Legal Clinic, a pro bono clinic held every two months. 

EC3’s business membership includes nearly 100 businesses that represent more than 10 different languages spoken. The top languages include: English, Spanish, Amharic, Karen, and French. More than half of business members identify as minority, immigrants and/or refugee-owned, with approximately 40 percent identifying as women-owned. Of EC3’s members, nearly 75 percent are renting their commercial space making them more vulnerable to displacement.

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Direct Advocacy

Before Advocacy Direct Advocacy

Capitol Liquor Story  

The Capital Liquors sign on the corner of Colfax and Cherry St. is a recognizable landmark that has attracted customers for generations.  

Capital Liquors, a minority and immigrant-owned business, has been operating since 1967. They have always leased this historic sign, never owning it. In 2020, the sign was acquired by new ownership and they increased the rent by 615% from $130/month to $800/month.

Around the same time, a storm blew through Denver causing damage to the sign. Letters were blown off and the sign went dark. Capital Liquors contacted the new sign owner requesting repairs. The new owners denied this request, and eventually “de-identified” the sign by removing the lettering until Capitol Liquor agreed to the new terms of the contract.  At this point, Capital Liquors reached out to EC3 for support and guidance. 

EC3 quickly took action providing a voice to Capital Liquors by meeting with Denver City Council, engaging with Denver’s historic preservation communities, and contracting with pro bono legal counsel. Due to EC3’s and Capitol Liquor’s leadership, the sign is now under new ownership. Capital Liquors has a fair and just lease on the sign and after paying off the cost of repairs, they will no longer have to pay rent on this iconic landmark sign.


Permitting Process:

  • EC3 is looking to leverage language in the East Area Plan to work with the City of Denver to streamline permitting processes.

Common Area Maintenance (CAM) Fees:

  • EC3 is conducting research on CAM Fees to ensure if businesses pay these fees, they receive the maintenance they deserve.

Relief Access/Equity:

  • EC3 is advocating for COVID relief programs for Start-up businesses who have not been served.
  • EC3 advocated for improvements in Access to Relief programs that resulted in the creation of the Priority Neighborhood Small Business Relief program of City of Denver.

Property Tax Relief

  • EC3 is building a campaign to document the impact of property taxes on displacement to propose community solutions to the rising tax burden of local businesses.
  • We are working with the Colfax Mayfair BID to implement Adaptive Reuse Pilot program to allow businesses to repurpose and share space to reduce tax burdens.