Poll: Colorado Small Businesses Support Reforms to Expand Access to Licensing for Justice-Impacted Individuals

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, March 7, 2024

New poll finds strong support for licensing reform measures that would help to expand the candidate pool and boost opportunities for entrepreneurship

Denver, CO — Today, Small Business Majority released new research that reveals strong support for licensing reform measures that could expand Colorado’s small business workforce. A majority (75%) of Colorado small business owners support legislative solutions that would remove barriers to occupational and professional licensing for justice-impacted individuals. 

Small businesses are a crucial part of Colorado’s economy and support 47% of the state's private sector workforce. However, Small Business Majority research revealed that 66% of small business owners say the top challenge they face when hiring is finding  quality candidates. This challenge is coming at a time when Colorado ranks highest in the nation in worker shortages. Small businesses are still grappling with workforce shortages stemming from pandemic-related challenges.

Given the tight labor markets, it will be necessary for Colorado to utilize all opportunities to expand and diversify its candidate pool. The state legislature is considering legislation that would address this by creating more opportunities for justice-impacted individuals to pursue occupational licenses. The poll reveals that this type of measure is strongly supported by Colorado small businesses—for example, 76% believe that state licensing boards should consider the nature of the offense when deciding whether to deny a license, rather than deny a license broadly for any felony conviction.

“Reducing barriers to occupational licensing for justice-impacted individuals is an important step to addressing Colorado’s workforce shortage challenges and empowering innovators to take the entrepreneurial plunge,” said Lindsey Vigoda, Colorado Director for Small Business Majority. “Colorado has a vast untapped pool of candidates who are hindered from pursuing workforce opportunities because of barriers to licenses. It’s time to enact proposals to help support aspiring entrepreneurs and workers with previous criminal records to become successful and integral community members.” 

The survey also reveals small business owners’ views on reforms to driver’s license fees and ending debt-based driver’s license suspensions(61% support), which can hinder the ability to get to and from the workplace. 

Colorado small businesses are struggling to recruit and retain qualified employees, while many justice-impacted Coloradans are being held back from employment by a previous criminal record. The research shows that with reforms to occupational licensing and debt-based driver’s license suspensions, Colorado can expand talent recruitment while supporting entrepreneurship bolstered by a ready workforce that includes justice-impacted people. During the 2024 legislation session, policymakers can help build a more robust economy by supporting measures that allow employers to tap into an underutilized workforce. 

This poll reflects a survey of 100 Colorado small business owners and decision-makers. The poll was an online and phone survey conducted by Chesapeake Beach Consulting on February 5, 2024. The margin of error is +/-10%. Click here to read the full report. 



About Small Business Majority

Small Business Majority is a national small business organization that empowers America's diverse entrepreneurs to build a thriving and equitable economy. We engage our network of more than 85,000 small businesses and 1,500 business and community organizations to advocate for public policy solutions and deliver resources to entrepreneurs that promote equitable small business growth. Our deep connections with the small business community along with our scientific research enable us to educate the public about key issues impacting America’s entrepreneurs, with a special focus on advancing the smallest businesses and those facing systemic inequalities. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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