First Wave of OEDIT Location Neutral Marketing Grants Hit Western Slope

DENVER —July 29, 2020 Rio Blanco and Mesa Counties are two of Colorado’s first seven applicants for the Location Neutral Employment (LONE) Community Marketing Grants. The LONE grants provide rural communities up to $5,000 to market themselves to prospective LONE program employees and employers. 

The LONE program is an incentive offered by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), that encourages companies expanding in or relocating to Colorado to hire remote workers in rural areas of the state. The incentive is an income tax credit for all of the new jobs a company creates in the state along with a cash grant for each remote employee the company hires to work in an eligible area (as defined by any county that was or is currently eligible for the Rural Jump-Start program).

OEDIT and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) have set aside $300,000 over the next three years to fund rural marketing activities. Counties and regional economic development organizations are eligible to apply. 

These marketing funds may be used to create marketing materials intended to attract companies that have been awarded a LONE incentive to their rural communities. For example, the marketing funds could be used to offset the cost of creating a website or other materials about the community, travel costs associated with meeting a company interested in hiring remote workers, or catering costs for hosting a company in your community.

Makala Barton, economic development and public relations coordinator for Rio Blanco County, plans to use the grant to create promotional flyers and enhance the county’s economic development website with remote worker information. 

"Rio Blanco County owns its own 1G fiber-optic broadband network with faster speeds than most urban areas at a lower cost. This positions us as an unexpected gem for location-neutral workers looking for an off-the-beaten-path Colorado lifestyle," Barton said.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) took the lead on marketing remote workers for Mesa County and the investment has already paid off in a big way. INFOCU5 recently announced they are moving their Pasadena, California-based operations to Grand Junction, which will bring 400 jobs -- including more than 170 location neutral jobs to western Colorado 

“From a very macro perspective, location neutral employment is the largest growing sector of employees, so it made sense for us to try and take advantage of that,” said Cilia Kohn, director of marketing and communications at GJEP. “INFOCU5’s arrival opens up a lot of opportunities for us to recruit more companies from California, and we admire their dedication to the western slope.”