This is a joint press release issued by the Boulder Chamber and Longmont Economic Development Partnership.
Boulder County Prepares to Submit 5-Star Certification Program Application
In another example of the collaborative countywide effort to support business vitality in balance with public health protection, Boulder County is preparing to submit a joint application from Boulder County’s economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, public health agency, and government authorities to operate administer a Boulder County 5-Star Certification program.
The week of December 14, 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) announced the Colorado COVID-19 5 Star State Certification Program. The program allows counties to develop a local certification program whereby businesses implement safety measures beyond what is already required by public health orders, and after an independent inspection and confirmation of compliance, a business is allowed to operate at less restrictive capacity caps.
Boulder County’s proposed program was drafted through a partnership between the Boulder Chamber and Longmont Economic Development Partnership (EDP), with support from the Boulder County Commissioners’ Office and Boulder County Public Health. The 5-Star Certification program would allow Boulder County businesses to accelerate and expand their capacity through an independent certification program.
Boulder County proposes to submit an application to CDPHE to operate a program locally after final review and support from Boulder County Public Health’s director, countywide municipalities, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies. Boulder County’s 5-Star Administrative committee intends to submit an application to manage the program as soon as possible, if there is support from all stakeholders and the County’s public health data at the time indicates it is eligible to implement the program. The program would not be up and running until CDPHE approves the application.
If approved, Boulder County’s proposed 5-Star Certification Program would employ the services of a third-party vendor, Longmont-based H2 Manufacturing Solutions. This proposed third-party vendor solution leverages a safety certification system developed by H2 and the Colorado COVID-19 Manufacturing Task Force that first convened in March and included members from Boulder County Public Health and Longmont Economic Development Partnership. H2’s Safety System and Certification program is a proven and affordable model rooted in public health and data science. H2 has been implementing the program throughout Colorado for the last six months across multiple industry sectors.
H2 CEO Heidi Hostetter noted that, “We’ve been working for months with Boulder Public Health, Longmont Economic Development Partnership, and CALPHO to build H2’s Safety System and Certification program to protect and save lives and to help businesses operate safely. We are proud to have Boulder County, again, step up as a leader by ensuring their 5-Star program supports businesses with the public health rigor that is needed to keep communities safe.”
As Longmont EDP President/CEO Jessica Erickson explained, “This has been a significant effort on the part of the County, municipalities, chambers, economic development organizations, and other partners across the County. We are confident in our readiness to submit an application and stand up a program now that the County is eligible to do so, in part because the work we have been doing since March to develop the Safety System and Certification program as part of the COVID-19 Manufacturers Task Force.”
“Consistent with all countywide economic measures during the pandemic response,” said Boulder Chamber President and CEO John Tayer, “Our chambers of commerce and economic development organizations have worked collaboratively with government partners in designing a 5-star certification program that protects public health, while maximizing opportunities for business activity. Our businesses tell us that they will gladly comply with expanded public health protections in exchange for a shot at keeping their businesses operating at a higher, more sustainable capacity.”
“We are excited this program is getting started to support our local economy,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health executive director. “It’s important to remember that all three indicators on the state Dial must indicate the county is eligible to move forward with the program before businesses would be permitted to operate the program. And, of course, we will follow the state guidance if we need to pause the program due to increased transmission and cases.”
The proposed Boulder County 5-Star Program uses a “train the trainer” model and will seek approximately 75 volunteers from across the County to serve as trained auditors and administrators for the program. Efforts are underway to identify government agencies and private businesses with underutilized employees due to COVID-19, or who are looking for opportunities to fulfill their corporate social responsibility mission, willing to repurpose their staff team members as safety certification inspectors. As part of the program, H2 would provide ongoing oversight and auditing of inspectors to ensure the highest level of integrity. Previous audits of their Safety System and Certification program have had a less than .05% variance across multiple inspectors in a variety of environments. The proposed partnership with H2 provides the opportunity to create a clear and rigorous program for businesses to comply with public health guidelines with more oversight than required by the state.
When asked about the Board of County Commissioners’ support for moving forward with the 5-Star application process, BOCC Chair Deb Gardner commented, “Boulder County understands the devastating impact of the pandemic has had on the physical health and economic health of our community members and businesses. This proposed partnership with H2 Manufacturing creates a program that benefits both our economy and is protective of public health. As members of the administrative committee, along with Boulder County Public Health and local hospital representatives, we are committed to ensuring the program will be implemented in a manner that is data-driven and aligns with Boulder County Public Health’s guidance.”
Any organization interested in supporting the Boulder County program with paid employees or volunteers can express their interest by filling out the form at http://bit.ly/BOCOFiveStarInterest. This form can also be used for businesses to express early interest in participating in the certification program.
More information about Colorado’s 5 Star Certification Program can be found at https://covid19.colorado.gov/five-star-certification.