Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) unveiled a new economic development initiative aimed at encouraging economic prosperity throughout rural Colorado. Colorado’s Mutual Prosperity (COMP) Program incents new jobs that can be performed from eligible rural areas of the state.
The program is designed to encourage collaboration between key economic development stakeholders in Colorado’s urban and rural communities by expanding the benefits of large, urban job creation projects. The program uses existing economic development tools to incentivize employers to hire on-site employees in urban areas as well as remote employees in rural communities.
Companies that allow employees to work in a rural location at least three days a week can receive a Strategic Fund cash incentive in addition to applying for Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits (JGITC). The Strategic Fund incentive would be layered with the JGITC; it is not a stand-alone incentive.
“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. “COMP is designed to encourage economic growth throughout the state by connecting location-neutral jobs with all of Colorado.”
Rural and urban economic development organizations will work together to solicit new or expanded businesses, with employees being hired in both locations. Communities benefit from job creation and the company will benefit from the Strategic Fund Incentive. This incentive would be paid at the end of a five-year term within the eight-year JGITC term. The award would be calculated based on the number of net new rural permanent jobs, held for at least one year, then averaged over the five-year term. The level of the award per net new job (NNJ) would be paid based on the scale below:
- 1 - 10 rural NNJs = $2,500/NNJ
- 11 - 15 rural NNJs = $3,000/NNJ
- 16+ rural NNJs = $5,000/NNJ
- All rural jobs located on Southern Ute Indian or the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation lands = $5,000/NNJ
“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 Colorado Mutual Prosperity Program.”
To support COMP’s launch, the Economic Development Commission voted at its May 16, 2019 meeting to allocate $200,000 from the Strategic Fund to be used by rural communities for marketing or recruiting purposes, reimbursable up to $5,000 per year. Eligible marketing and recruiting expenses include travel, marketing collateral and other costs associated with collaborating with urban economic developers. In addition, the Department of Local Affairs committed an additional $100,000 to assist rural communities in marketing and recruiting.
OEDIT officials will host a webinar for economic development organizations and other interested individuals on July 25 2019 at 10 a.m. MST. The COMP program launches on July 1, 2019, and will be re-evaluated after a one-year period.