Statewide Team including OEDIT to help rural economies and businesses recover from economic impacts of COVID-19
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced last week that it has awarded a $2.3 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to help rural Colorado communities develop economic recovery and resiliency plans. These efforts will support the growth of regional economies and businesses, and advance economic resiliency efforts.
A State Partnership Team including the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), along with the nonprofit Community Builders, will offer rural communities planning and technical assistance support to diversify and strengthen their economies while building resiliency. Communities with shared economies are invited to form Regional Community Teams to accelerate progress toward thriving and resilient economies. Teams will be selected through a formal application process based on their rural status, COVID-19 impacts, connected economies and economic vulnerability factors. The goal is to serve 16 Regional Community Teams, representing at least 50 rural Colorado communities.
This EDA grant will be matched with $869,723 in matching funds from the State Partnership Team to localities, and is expected to create 100 jobs as well as $50 million in private investment. This grant allows rural Colorado communities the opportunity to develop Colorado Rural COVID-19 Recovery & Resiliency Roadmap.
“This project is limited to Regional Community Teams from rural counties and from municipalities with populations under 50,000,” said Glenn Plagens, director of Business Support and Rural Prosperity at OEDIT. “COVID-19 was an economic shock unlike any other and while the economy statewide was impacted, it was especially felt in rural communities where tourism and service industry jobs are prevalent. This grant allows us to further assist our rural communities.”
"This initiative will provide essential recovery and resiliency planning support so that our rural communities – including critical communities impacted by the transitioning coal economy – can take a long-term, holistic view to reimagine their regional economies and advance priority projects," said Anne Miller, Director of the Colorado Resiliency Office at DOLA. "By thinking regionally, these rural communities will have the advantage of strategizing around impacts and opportunities while also building partnerships towards shared visions and goals. The benefits will go beyond pandemic response and recovery and will move Colorado towards a more resilient future."
The State Partnership Team will work closely with the Regional Community Teams, providing each with capacity support (including a paid consultant), data and access to resources to develop a Recovery and Resiliency Roadmap. The selected Regional Community Teams will connect regularly with rural representatives from the three state agencies and will have intensive support from a state-provided economic recovery project manager. Community Builders will also support each of the community teams throughout the project.