September 3, 2020 \\ Volume 1
Welcome to COVID Connections
Welcome to the first edition of our new monthly newsletter, COVID Connections. Our readers may be wondering: why? Why now? Why have we started a monthly newsletter 6 months into the pandemic? Why are we still talking about COVID and when can we get on with our lives? We hear you! We are all suffering from the fatigue of talking about, worrying about, and thinking about this "new normal". We are with you 100%.

For Manufacturer's Edge, the answer to "Why?" is simple. We want to make your life easier. Our role as an official NIST-MEP Center is to do whatever we can to help the manufacturing community of Colorado stay safe, stay open, and continue doing what you do best. Our intention is to provide up-to-date, unbiased facts and resources through a variety of different channels that are easy for people to access and digest.

One of those channels is our website where we have a collection of COVID-related pages, links, and updates as well as a directory where you can either promote your PPE products or purchase supplies.

Since March, we have also included COVID updates in our regular monthly newsletter, Manufacturing Minutes, which comes out on the third Thursday of each month.

COVID Connections will arrive in your inbox on the first Thursday of every month and will cover tips to help you stay safe, stay informed, and stay connected.

The Stay Safe section covers programs and products designed to help you keep yourself and your employees safe at work as easily, as thoroughly, and as affordably as possible.

The Stay Informed section contains links to the most reliable sources for data as well as updates on funding opportunities and informative events.

Finally, our favorite section, Stay Connected, features inspiring stories of how your friends and neighbors in the manufacturing community are rising to the unprecedented challenges and finding ways to adjust, grow, and thrive. We are all is this together, so let us help you weather the storm and make the best of a bad situation. You inspire us everyday with your strength, innovation, and tenacity and we want to celebrate your achievements and broadcast them to the world. You are our why.
Manufacturer's Edge
Director of Marketing & Communications
Manufacturer's Edge
Stay Safe
COVIDCheck Colorado
Manufacturer's Edge is pleased to announce that are partnering with COVIDCheck Colorado (CCC) to help manufacturers and other business owners connect to their comprehensive testing and tracing program. CCC is a social benefit enterprise under the Gary Community Investment Company. They are a philanthropic organization striving to help Coloradans navigate the pandemic while keeping our economy and our communities open and thriving.

The first step for CCC was to establish a series of testing sites throughout the state that offer top-of-the-line testing capabilities with significantly reduced turnaround time and expense. While other facilities charge upwards of $100 or more per test and aren't able to return test results for 2 weeks or longer, CCC sites charge $12 per test and return the results in 48 hours or less.

In addition to testing, CCC has also developed an app that allows employees to submit their daily symptom check to the employer, receive test results, and keep a log of their interactions in order to easily produce contact tracing documentation. The results are provided to a single central contact (in HR, for example) in order to protect the employee's privacy, but can be aggregated with other data in order to give the company an accurate representation of trends across the organization.

Several schools and universities throughout the state have used CCC to open safely. In the coming weeks, CCC and Manufacturer's Edge will host a roundtable discussion and invite representatives from the schools to share their experiences. More details and registration information will be announced soon.

Find out more on our website or email us at
to find out how COVIDCheck Colorado can work for you
How Safe is Your Cyber?
Most of the manufacturers we have spoken with recently have done their due diligence to install social distancing measures and provide proper PPE to their employees. One question we ask, though, that is frequently overlooked is are you as safe with your cyber practices as you are with your physical health and safety? With more people working from home, you may be unknowingly opening up your company to new, unanticipated threats.

One good test is to ask your IT director what the compliance plan is for CO HB1128 and NSTIR-8183. The speed and thoroughness of their response will tell you all you need to know in order to assess where your company stands.

Stay Informed
The COVID Tracking Project
One of our favorite go-to resources for reliable, up-to-date information is the the COVID Tracking Project. A volunteer organization, The Tracking Project covers all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia. Their data is so accurate that dozens of national news organizations as well research projects and agencies rely on them, including Johns Hopkins, NPR, and the White House.

Visit their website to track changes nationwide as well as here in Colorado
Energize Colorado Gap Fund Now Accepting Applications
The Energize Colorado Gap Fund will provide more than $25M in small business loans and grants to boost small business enterprises that are the economic engines throughout the state. Sole proprietors, businesses, and nonprofits with less than 25 full-time employees can apply for up to a $15,000 grant and a $20,000 loan for a possible combined total of $35,000 in financial assistance.

Stay Connected
Connecting with Whimsical Whiskers: Making Masks, Saving Lives, and Lifting Spirits
by Jennifer Kurtz
COVID initiatives can make for strange product pivots. One Colorado-based manufacturer of dragons and other stuffed toy beasties was faced with the challenge of losing 90% of her historical revenue source, which was product sales at trade shows, when large-scale, in-person gatherings were shut down. Although already registered in 2020 to participate in 22 different trade shows, only two of them actually took place. Even launching a new website to promote online sales of her customized, stuffed animals and accessories was not enough to keep her contract workforce employed.

A connection from her previous work at UC Boulder brought up her name and sewing skills with the Colorado Hospital Association. Through a partnership with the association and the Colorado Health Foundation, Whimsical Whiskers owner Brenna Deutchman obtained a grant from the Gates Family Foundation. She hired 25 contract stitchers from refugee communities to produce 12,000 masks in 8 weeks. The grant paid for production of the masks (materials and labor) and the hospital association managed their delivery in late May when masks were in short supply. The Civil Air Patrol flew the masks and other personal protective equipment to rural hospitals, providing needed alternative reusable cloth masks for health care workers in rural Colorado communities and local metro health care facilities.

Brenna also partners with Mindful Works in Boulder, CO as well as WeMadeThis Denver for sewing, as well as other local seamstresses, including several members of the Convention Artist’s Guild. To date, Brenna’s team has made and donated over 12,000 masks to healthcare workers (8,000 complete masks and 4,000 DIY kits to be sewn in the rural areas by the community). Their colorful masks follow CDC guidelines and are available online—along with adorable beasts on her website. Whether for COVID, Chanukah (only 98 days away), or Christmas (only 113 days away), Whimsical Whiskers delivers!
Connect with Manufacturer's Edge
No one knows what the future holds -- what else 2020 has in store for us...! At Manufacturer's Edge, we are committed to helping the Colorado manufacturing community grow and thrive regardless of what obstacles come our way. One of the biggest challenges we face is simply not knowing what businesses are confronting. And if we don't know, we can't help. The more information we have, the more we can communicate those needs and concerns to our local, state, and federal representatives throughout the Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network. So, we encourage you to reach out and share your story with us.

Connect and let us know how we can best serve you.
Regional Director
Regional Director
Northern & Western Colorado
Regional Director
Southern Colorado & South Denver