OEDIT's and CDLE's Impactful Work for the Just Transition National Strategy

Colorado Just Transition Action Plan

On December 31, 2020, the Colorado Just Transition Action Plan was submitted to Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Legislature.

The plan’s recommendations include supporting coal transition workers who are or will be laid off by connecting them with job and training opportunities, local, state, and federal resources, quality jobs, and more.
The plan also outlines how local leaders can help their communities grow with support from other partners, including the state. By attracting funding to support businesses and power local economic growth, by investing in infrastructure, and through other actions, coal communities can ensure their future prosperity.

The above are just a few of the plan’s recommendations. We encourage you to read the Colorado Just Transition Action Plan in its entirety.

Review a summary of the National Just Transition Strategy

Read Governor Polis' letter to President Biden on these issues here.

Tier One Communities: Morgan County, Pueblo County, Montrose County (West End), and the Yampa Valley (Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties)
Tier Two Communities: Delta and Gunnison Counties, El Paso County, La Plata County and Larimer County.

OEDIT's Rural Opportunity Office Support

OEDIT's Rural Opportunity Office (ROO) was first established in November 2019 to expand rural prosperity and provide economic development support through a fully remote team with each employee living in the region they represent. ROO's strategic work with the Office of Just Transition within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for rural communities impacted by the coal transition has proven to be an impactful relationship.

Katharina Papenbrock is the Rural Opportunity Office's division director and “As a former business owner in Ouray and having worked with other small businesses across the western region, I’ve lived and seen the struggle business owners face to sustain their companies while living in an area with limited resources,'' said Kat Papenbrock, Rural Opportunity Office Director. “I’m excited to lead this new division and strong team to bring opportunity to all regions of Colorado.”

Rural Programs and Funding

Colorado Rural Resiliency and Recovery Roadmaps
This program provides technical assistance and grants for regional teams of rural communities to drive economic relief, recovery, diversification and long-term resilience.

Rural Technical Assistance Program
This program helps rural communities create economic development strategies by providing free technical assistance and consulting services.

Rural Jump-Start Program
This program helps economically distressed communities attract new businesses and jobs.

Enterprise Zone Program
This program encourages development in economically distressed areas of the state through tax incentives.

Location Neutral Employment Community Matching Grant
This grant provides marketing funds to help rural areas attract out-of-state companies to create new jobs in their communities.

Enhanced Benefits Through OEDIT Programs

OEDIT Programs that provide enhanced benefits to Just Transition Communities (special tools provided by OEDIT to economic developers and community stakeholders in Just Transition Communities)

  • The Rural Opportunity Office engages in a State Agency Partnership team to support regional Just Transition Communities. The core partnership represents regional representatives from OEDIT, DOLA and CDLE and brings in other key state agency partners to align economic, community and workforce development projects and collaborate on programs and technical assistance to Tier One and Tier Two Just Transition Communities. In addition, the Tier One communities within the Yampa Valley and Morgan County and Tier Two communities within Gunnison and Larimer Counties are currently participating in the EDA-funded Rural Recovery and Resiliency Roadmaps grant program, supported by DOLA, OEDIT and CDLE. The Rural Opportunity Office also collaborates with the REDI Institute at Colorado State University and its EDA-funded recovery grant where it overlaps with Just Transition communities in Delta County and Pueblo. The Rural Technical Assistance Program, re-launching in the Spring of 2022 will also provide free educational resources for rural economic developers, communities and business support organizations as well as a competitive process for targeted technical assistance and implementation funding. Just Transition Communities will be given priority points toward their competitiveness in these programs.
  • The Colorado Startup Loan Fund will be deploying $300K in loan dollars to our Rural Business Loan Fund Partners for the explicit use of supporting startup and existing small businesses in Tier One and Tier Two Just Transition Communities. This program also plans to deploy $5.52M in lending dollars, $330K in grant dollars, and $563.5K in funding for technical assistance services to 11 organizations that exclusively serve Rural Counties (First Southwest Community Loan Fund, and 10 Rural Economic Development Regional Lenders) with coordinated and focused outreach efforts to attract subscription from businesses in Just Transition Communities.
  • The Rural Jump-Start Program provides enhanced grants to new businesses in Tier One Just Transition Counties, who receive double the grants of a typical economically distressed, rural county. Businesses in Tier One Just Transition Counties will receive $40,000 in matching grants for operational expenses and $5,000 in grants for each qualified new hire. Businesses in economically distressed, non-Just Transition rural counties receive a $20,000 matching grant for operational expenses and $2,500 for each qualified new hire. 
  • Based on a process managed by OEDIT and supported by the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), Governor Jared Polis recently exercised his authority under federal law and nominated several new census tracts to become  HUBZones under the Small Business Administration program.  These zones fuel small business growth in historically underutilized business zones with a goal of awarding at least 3% of federal contract dollars to HUBZone-Certified companies each year.  On XX, the SBA announced that it accepted Governor Polis’ recommendations.  Of the 8 new tracts four are in Just Transition Counties and the San Miguel Tract is adjacent to Montrose County.
    • Census Tract 9743, Archuleta County 
    • Census Tract 39.09, El Paso County 
    • Census Tract 18, Mesa County 
    • Census Tract 9662.01, Montrose County 
    • Census Tract 9662.02, Montrose County 
    • Census Tract 9666.02, Montrose County
    • Census Tract 9682, San Miguel County 
    • Census Tract 19.05, Weld County
  • The Strategic Fund Grant Incentives provided enhanced grants to businesses located in Tier One or Tier Two Just Transition Communities. In April 2021, the Economic Development Commission approved a policy change which allowed Net New Jobs in Just Transition counties to be incentivized at the maximum $6,500/job. The following tables reflect potential incentive levels per eligible job based on the annual average wage rate for the net new full-time permanent jobs compared to the county average wage rate. *All Just Transition NNJs at $6,500/Eligible Job in select counties:
Non-Enterprise Zone
Annual Average Wage Rate %$ Incentive / Eligible Job
100%$3,000
120%$4,000
140% or >$6,500

 

Enterprise or Opportunity Zone/Rural Jump-Start Eligible/select "Just Transition" counties
Annual Average Wage Rate %$ Incentive / Eligible Job
100%$3,000
110%$4,000
120%$5,000
130% or >$6,500

 

  • The Location Neutral Employment (LONE) Incentive provides companies that will be approved for a Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit with an additional Strategic Fund Job Growth cash incentive for each remote worker employed in an eligible rural county outside the county where the project is based. Remote J jobs in Rural Jump-Start counties will receive $2,500/job, while remote jobs in Just Transition Rural Jump-Start counties will receive $5,000/job. In addition to higher incentive levels, Just Transition Counties’ Local Match requirement will be waived during the Calendar Year 2021 for ONE job creation incentive project up to $1,000,000 per county. 
  • The Colorado Tourism Office Restart Destinations Program provides access to research and organizational capacity for Colorado tourism destinations recovering from the pandemic. Colorado destinations that were awarded the grant program received a recovery assessment, a full-day community visioning and action planning workshop, 75 hours of technical assistance, and direct marketing support. The grant program was awarded to seven destination marketing and management organizations (DMOs) in six Just Transition counties (Pueblo, Moffat, La Plata, El Paso, Gunnison, and Larimer).
Success Stories for Businesses Supported by OEDIT Programs

Start Up and Investment Programs

  • Under the Colorado Microloan Program (contracted through June 2022), OEDIT provided loans to 38 businesses located in Tier One Just Transition Counties for a total of $611K combined with an additional $341.1K in participation loans and created 36 jobs. OEDIT also provided loans to 21 businesses located in Tier Two Just Transition Counties for a total of $567.6K combined with an additional $587.6 in participation loans and created 55 jobs. 
  • The Community Revitalization Grant Program awarded $2 million to Camp V in the West End of Montrose County to Camp V, LLC for the adaptive reuse of a former site housing workers employed in a former uranium mill operation. Camp V will include cabins, “glamping” sites, RV spots, art installations and outdoor areas for concerts and special events. An award of $50,000 was made to the Warehouse Food Hall in Moffat County to expand culinary arts vendors, coffee shop, community space and co-working space. An award of $175,000 was made to the Oliver House Purchase in Norwood, CO in San Miguel County to provide a space for performing arts and recreation opportunities for all ages in Norwood. The Hayden Center, renovation of a former high school into community space for creative arts, community health, child care, youth activities and event space has been recommended for funding of $1,686,698 if additional state funding becomes available.
  • To date, the Advanced Industry Early-Stage Capital and Retention Grant Program has made two investments in Tier One Just Transition communities, totaling $402,500 in awards; and 44 investments in Tier Two Just Transition communities, totaling $8,963,169 in awards.

Venture Capital Authority

  • The Venture Capital Authority has invested in funds which in turn have invested in companies located in the following Just Transition communities.
  • The Greater Colorado Venture Fund has among its portfolio companies:
    • Haekka is a technology company which provides employee training, compliance, and tracking. The business is located in and has two employees in Oak Creek, Routt County.
    • Venga Group, Inc. is located in Steamboat Springs, Routt County with 21 employees; it develops products containing CBD for endurance athletes. 
    • Agile Space Industries, Inc. is located in Durango, La Plata County with 33 employees developing jet propulsion technology. 
    • SheFly Apparel LLC is a women's outdoor clothing brand located in Gunnison, Gunnison County.
    • MuniRevs, a software firm focused on gov-tech solutions is located in Durango, La Plata County. The business was bought in August 2021, but continues to operate in Durango.
  • FirstMile Ventures has among its portfolio companies:
    • IA Technologies Inc., a next-gen hiring technology business with seven employees in Colorado Springs, El Paso County.
    • Nyla Technologies is an online ecommerce technology firm with one employee in Timnath, Larimer County.

Opportunity Zone Programs

  • The Opportunity Zone Technical Support Grant Program supported the West End of Montrose County in marketing Camp V to Opportunity Zone investment, leading to an Opportunity Zone investment from Four Points Funding. The Opportunity Zone Technical Support Grant also supported pre-development activities for workforce housing projects in Gunnison and Morgan counties, as well as an OZ investment prospectus for Delta County. These four grants have each translated to projects being funded and built in Just Transition communities.
  • The Opportunity Zone Capital Accelerator Program also supported numerous businesses in Just Transition communities, including the Yampa Valley Adventure Center in Craig, Campfire Ranch in Gunnison, and Evans Early Childhood Center in Fort Morgan.

Job Growth

Rural Jump-Start Program

  • So far, the Rural Jump-Start Program admitted two businesses from Tier One Just Transition Counties (Routt): Town Hall Public Benefit Corporation and Gate 6 Enterprises, LLC dba Bar-U-Eat.
    • Town Hall Public Benefit Corporation is based out of Steamboat Springs and makes sustainable outdoor apparel for adventurous kids. The company plans to employ eight new hires, three of which will qualify for the $5,000 new hire grant. The total amount of grant funding for Town Hall Public Benefit Corporation will be up to $55,000.
    • Bar-U-Eat is located in Hayden and produces granola bars, with a focus on sustainability. Bar-U-Eat expects to hire 35 new employees, 13 of which will qualify for the $5,000 new hire grant. The company's total grant funding will be up to $105,000.

Strategic Fund Incentives for Job Growth

  • SheFly Apparel LLC, is a women's outdoor clothing brand,  will lead to the creation of 24 net new jobs in Gunnison, Gunnison County.
  • indieDwell, a modular housing manufacturer, focuses on communities in need of economic and workforce development which will lead to the creation of 171 net new jobs in Pueblo County.

Location Neutral Employment (LONE) Incentive

  • To date, OEDIT has signed four LONE Worker Incentive Contracts for the creation of up to 359 net new jobs in Rural Jump-Start Eligible Counties.

Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit

  • Project Chapter - pending - is a brewpub sized distillery in California hoping to open up a new distillery and retail location in Montrose Colorado which will lead to the creation of 40 net new jobs.

Tourism

Tourism Marketing Matching Grant

  • Tourism Management Grants were awarded to eight organizations in Just Transition communities (El Paso, Gunnison, La Plata, Larimer, and Pueblo) totaling $160,000. Projects that are funded by this grant target the development, enhancement, or management of visitor experience in Colorado to spur  recovery for the tourism industry throughout the year and beyond.

Meeting and Events Incentive Program through the Tourism Office