OEDIT Action Grants Support 27 Economic Development Initiatives Across Colorado, from La Junta to Mancos and Hugo to Grand Junction

Today, the Business Funding & Incentives division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and the Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) announced 27 recipients of Economic Development Organization (EDO) Action Grants. These one-time grants support initiatives that seek to strengthen and diversify local economies across the state, from La Junta to Mancos and Hugo to Grand Junction. 

“By supporting local economic development efforts across Colorado, these EDO Action Grants further the State’s commitment to build and sustain a strong Colorado economy that works for everyone, in particular our rural communities. We look forward to celebrating the milestones these communities reach as a result of these grants,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT Executive Director.

Grant funding was made available by the Colorado General Assembly through a directed, one-time incremental appropriation to OEDIT in the 2022 Long Bill, House Bill 22-1329. The bill specified, "It is the General Assembly's intent that $1 million of this appropriation be used to support local economic development organizations throughout the state with a preference toward those serving rural regions of the state."

The EDO action grants provide $25,000 to $40,000 to EDOs in 22 counties across the state. Among the funding and projects announced today are leadership development and business accelerator programs, workforce development initiatives to connect Coloradans to job opportunities, and business expansion and retention programs. Thirteen of the 27 recipients support historically under-resourced businesses including minority-, Veteran- and women- owned businesses.

“Funding opportunities like the EDO Action Grant boost the capacity of local economic development organizations to complete projects that grow the local economy and make it easier to secure future funding. We’re pleased to support so many EDOs across the state through this important funding opportunity,” said Kim Woodworth, EDCC’s Executive Director. 

OEDIT received 85 applications from EDOs across the state. A total of $950,000 in one-time grants was awarded. The selection committee, composed of representatives from OEDIT, the EDCC, the Colorado Economic Development Commission (EDC), and the Department of Local Affairs sought to equitably distribute the funding across the state, with an emphasis on EDOs located in rural or economically distressed counties. 

The grant recipients are:

Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce - $30,000

This project will support the expansion of the Leadership Alamosa program.  Over the past year, this new program far exceeded expectations, and as such, the Alamosa County Chamber of Commerce requested EDO Action grant funding to expand programming and cover expenses for the trainer, with scholarships to support minority leader participation (which is the target market for this program). At the conclusion of the program, participants will propose and execute a viable project to address community needs. 

Asian Chamber of Commerce Colorado - $40,000

The Asian Chamber of Commerce Colorado will focus this funding to expand support provided to and to identify additional Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) small business needs and challenges. The grant initiative will support providing additional culturally competent 1:1 business counseling sessions and fostering increased connections. Additionally, the organization will use grant funds to conduct resource fairs and training workshops to meet AAPI businesses and workforce needs.

Chaffee County Economic Development Corp - $40,000

The Chaffee County Economic Development Corp will focus grant funding to support the third year of their successful 8-week Ascent Accelerator Program (which began with seed funding from a DOLA REDI grant). Funding will additionally support related programming to include an Ark Angels investor group, mentor network, curriculum, training, community building events, and talent pipeline efforts to drive their initiative to grow Chaffee county’s year-round economy and support rural entrepreneurs.

Denver Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO), City & County of Denver - $40,000

Grant funding will advance the DEDO Business Development division’s  new Legacy Business Program (LBP) with a marketing & public engagement strategy to encourage program participation by Historically Under-resourced Businesses (HUBs), and create recognition and visibility for legacy businesses. Preserving small, neighborhood-serving businesses that contribute to the characteristics and authenticity of their surrounding community that hold cultural significance is essential for community wealth building and entrepreneurship. 

Eagle Economic Vitality Foundation - $35,540

The Eagle Economic Vitality Foundation (a non-profit arm of the Eagle Chamber of Commerce) will offer a computer training program focused on connecting local citizens seeking new employment opportunities with local businesses. The program will help job seekers both search and apply for employment online. The program focuses on local Hispanic adults and will offer basic, intermediate, and advanced classes. 

First Southwest Community Fund - $40,000

The First Southwest Community fund will leverage the EDO Action Grant with matching funds to hire a new Technical Assistance (TA) Provider who will work to support rural, under resourced entrepreneurs and minority-owned business owners to start, grow, or expand their small business.

Fremont County Economic Development Corporation - $40,000

The Fremont County Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) will develop a campaign to research, identify and support historically under-resourced business opportunities and remove obstacles to business success in rural Fremont County through their Economic Homesteading model that champions collective entrepreneurial support and community. This is in alignment with the FEDC’s Rural Reboot, a strategic plan to support and attract historically under-resourced people and businesses, and slowly building a culture of diversity.

Grand Junction Economic Partnership - $31,600

This project will expand the Grand Junction Economic Partnership’s proactive business recruitment efforts by increasing strategic prospect engagement through attending new tradeshows, events, conferences and marketing efforts with a goal to achieve 50 new prospects in 2023.

Huerfano County Economic Development Inc. - $37,966

The Huerfano County Economic Development Inc. (HCED) is launching a Pop-up Retail Business Incubator and Makerspace to ignite the retail sector of the economy and excite community makers. The project will house pop-ups in a retail space on Main Street in Walsenburg with a Makerspace nearby.

Hugo Main Street - $40,000

This project would expand the Hugo Main Street’s "Home Grown" facade improvement program, directly supporting Main Street District businesses and including technical assistance support. Sales improvements are expected to be sustained for several years, and these improvements should attract new businesses and additional shoppers to the target area. 

JeffCo EDC - $40,000

This project seeks to build a structure to provide enhanced support to businesses by creating a resource mapping  and digital platform to benefit all businesses across Jefferson County. This solution will provide better connectivity to address current and future business needs, with an emphasis on connection to underserved businesses.

La Junta Economic Development, City of La Junta - $33,000

The current City of La Junta website is not conducive to doing business with the municipality. This project focuses on developing a website that is easily navigable and efficient, integrated to encompass all divisions, ADA compliance, multilingual users, and business relevant. 

Lincoln County Economic Development Corp - $25,000

Lincoln County EDC plans to use grant funds to increase small business community outreach through meetings, promotion, and events that foster small business support and success, with focus on sustainability.

Main Street Steamboat Springs - $34,950

This project will support a business retention and expansion program to identify, engage, assess, and connect businesses in Downtown Steamboat Springs (largely startups and sole proprietors) to support their needs through State, Federal, and local economic development partnerships and programming. The Main Street Steamboat Springs program will develop a scalable system to track businesses and grow a database to support economic development programming. 

Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center - $29,000

This initiative will support under-resourced Mancos creative industries with business workshops and maximize a series of annual destination events with high retail sales potential, strengthening the community’s brand and draw as a creative community.

Mi Casa Resource Center - $40,000

Business Pathways serves low-income, women and minority-owned businesses in Denver Metro. This funding will help expand the program, which offers consulting, access to capital, and training for businesses in all stages, to the Tri-Cities Corridor of Littleton, Englewood, and Sheridan. 

Montezuma County - $26,000

Montezuma County will create a county-wide business prospectus in print and online to assist in retaining and recruiting businesses to the county. The project will include pages for each municipality and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Montrose Economic Development Corp. - $37,400

Montrose Economic Development Corporation seeks to create an active, local manufacturing group to support the more than 35 manufacturing companies in Montrose. The group will meet regularly to share ideas, discuss challenges and find solutions. This is a partnership with Colorado Mesa University (CMU), which will help inform manufacturing companies about CMU training programs and identify new programs to meet manufacturing workforce needs. 

Pagosa Springs Community Development Corp. - $33,000

Funding will be used to work with Pueblo Community College and workforce centers to develop a workforce and upskilling program to address worker shortages.

Prairie Rose Development Corp. - $25,000

Grant funds to support Colorado Kiva loan requests from women- and minority-owned as well as rural-based small businesses falling short of their public Kiva target goals by $1,000 or less.

Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE) - $30,000

To expand activities with a Digital Program Library designated for businesses to access resources on-demand and at their own pace to find relevant education with quicker access to mentors and pre-seed funding. 

Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado - $25,000

To allow Region 9 to hire additional staff to coordinate area governments in their readiness for last mile connectivity to ensure that each community’s specific broadband needs are met. Investing in expanding broadband coordination efforts will help strengthen existing businesses, diversify local economies and incentivize additional business and entrepreneur investment.

The East Central Council of Governments & Prairie Development Corp. - $40,000

Grant funds will be used to hire a new, full-time employee to assist with the implementation of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), loans, grant writing, and new programming. 

Town of San Luis - $36,544

This initiative will expand staff capacity to strategically manage economic business and entrepreneurial development programming and key property assets needed to support economic vitality in San Luis. Economic development initiatives have been thriving in the area, and the town is receiving grants and other support to focus on business attraction and expansion, entrepreneurial incubation, commercial property activation, and small scale manufacturing in 2023 and beyond.

West End Economic Development Corporation - $40,000

WEEDC will use this grant money to continue and expand its "Recruiting From Within" campaign to address workforce needs and specifically increase consulting hours and opportunities for participants in the apprenticeship program. 

Western Colorado Business Development dba Business Incubator Center - $40,000

To increase capacity and efficiencies for an existing, shared-use 2,500 sq. ft. Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program utilized by businesses in the food industry. There is demand for services that is not being met.

Yuma County Economic Development - $40,000

To hire a consultant to support grant writing and reporting to align with economic development priorities to increase programming and opportunities in housing, infrastructure, tourism, and community development. This would be seed money while the organization looks for another source to sustain a grant writer for the long-term.

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