Colorado’s economic strength and resilience shape today’s success and tomorrow’s possibility. Colorado boasts the nation’s number one economy and sustaining that prosperity depends on collective engagement.
One of Governor Polis’ core priorities is ensuring that Colorado’s rural communities are an active participant in Colorado’s sustained prosperity. The new Location Neutral Employment Program incents job creation that stretches beyond the confines of Colorado’s urban centers. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has launched this new program that targets location-neutral jobs and rewards the placement of those jobs in locations outside of Colorado’s traditional urban corridors. By linking these flexible location jobs with rural communities that seek economic partners, we spread economic prosperity throughout our state while leveraging rural Colorado’s exceptional quality of life in the talent attraction process.
The expanse of Colorado’s vibrant communities need not create geographic barriers between employees and opportunities. All of Colorado offers true opportunity and the Location Neutral Employment Program unlocks that opportunity by engaging economic development stakeholders throughout the state and connecting job creation projects with Colorado’s rural communities that seek employment. The program succeeds by leveraging existing economic development tools that incentivize employers to hire on-site employees in urban areas as well as remote employees in rural areas.
The Location Neutral Employment Program supports companies that allow employees to work in a rural location at least three days a week, making them eligible for a Strategic Fund cash incentive in addition to applying for Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits (JGITC). The Strategic Fund incentive can be layered with the JGITC, creating optimal support for the eligible companies.
“Colorado’s economy is the best in the nation and our economic prosperity shouldn’t be constrained by geography or resources,” said OEDIT Executive Director Betsy Markey. “The Location Neutral Employment Program is designed to encourage economic growth throughout the state by connecting location-neutral jobs with all of Colorado.”
The Location Neutral Employment Program works with rural and urban economic development organizations to encourage new and expanded businesses to participate in the program for applicable new hires. The initiative benefits the rural communities that realize needed job creation and the companies that become eligible for Strategic Fund Incentives in addition to the core Job Growth Income Tax Credit. Earned incentives are paid at the end of the Location Neutral Employment Program’s five-year term. Awarded incentives are based on the number of net new permanent rural jobs held for at least one year, averaged over the five-year term.
“This new tool creates a competitive advantage nationally for the metro region by encouraging a truly statewide workforce for companies moving here, and for our homegrown companies to stay and grow,” said J. J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. “By giving employers vision to more rural locations and the skilled workers living there, we can better assure that all of Colorado is benefitting from our economic success. It’s a win-win for rural Colorado and the Metro Denver region – and most importantly, for companies looking to find great talent anywhere in Colorado.”
“We are extremely excited about this new program here in Sterling,” said Trae Miller, executive director of the Logan County Economic Development Corporation. “This opens new possibilities for us to work more closely with the state and our metro area ED partners for rural access to high-paying jobs. This program can also give companies a new way to attract talent by offering options to live different lifestyles. Places like Sterling that have coworking facilities and vast high-speed broadband networks, coupled with affordable housing, are in a great position to leverage the Location Neutral Employment Program.”
To kickstart the launch of the program, the Economic Development Commission voted to allocate $200,000 from the Strategic Fund for program marketing and recruiting. Eligible expenses include travel, marketing collateral, and other costs rural communities incur while collaborating with urban economic developers. Reimbursement awards are available annually. The Department of Local Affairs also committed an additional $100,000 to assist rural communities in marketing and recruiting efforts.
The Location Neutral Employment Program launched on July 1, 2019, and will be re-evaluated after a one-year period.