U.S Economic Development Administration (EDA): $30 million in Assistant to Coal Communities

U.S. Economic Development Administration

U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is making $30 million in Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) funding available to directly assist communities and regions severely impacted by the declining use of coal through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities. EDA’s Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) has been updated to reflect the newly available funds. You can find more information and the link to the NOFA on EDA’s website: www.eda.gov/coal

There will be strong competition for these end-of-year funds.  If you intend to apply, it is strongly recommend to send applications as soon as your project details are known.  This $30 million is for coal communities throughout the nation, and the Denver Regional Office will receive only a portion of these funds for their ten states.

When you apply, you can bypass the proposal submission, and instead submit a full application. EDA will still review the full application as if it was a proposal before considering it as an application, but this will save you time in applying, given that there are only three months left in the fiscal year.

Under the ACC 2017 initiative, EDA is seeking applications for projects and activities that will:

  • Support the creation of new businesses and jobs in a variety of industry sectors
  • Create or implement economic diversification strategies targeting affected workers and businesses
  • Develop a business incubator program
  • Enhance access to and use of broadband services to support job growth
  • Facilitate access to private capital investment, and provide related capacity building and technical assistance
  • Promote market access for goods and services created and manufactured by businesses in the impacted community/region

The term coal economy is used to refer to the complete ecosystem of coal-reliant industries and businesses. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Coal Mining; and/or
  • Coal-Fired Power Plants; and/or
  • Related Transportation, and/or Logistics, and/or Supply Chain Manufacturing Industries.

For more information, please contact Trent Thompson, Economic Development Representative for Colorado and Utah – Denver Regional Office, Economic Development Administration – U.S. Department of Commerce


Region 9 to Administer Rural Loan Fund Program

The Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado has been chosen to administer $1.5 million dollars in rural business loan funds on the behalf of 12 rural regions throughout Colorado.

Based on the budgeted amount of $1.5 Million and an average loan size of $50,000, it is expected that at least 28 loans will be made in rural areas, at least 90 jobs will be created.

The funds are a grant from the Economic Development Commission (EDC) provided via the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to support small business and start up lending around Colorado for the next 2- 5 years. Region 9 and the partner 12 regions were chosen as they already provide loans to under-served small businesses and have an established track record of collaboration and a delivery system in place.

“The strength of this initiative stems from the BLF Administrators having a physical presence in the rural communities that they serve,” said Sanjiv Doresewamy, Business Development Loan Officer.”

The regions’ Business Loan Fund Administrators meet twice a year to share best practices and work to move the economic success needle forward across the state.

Region 9 is a public/private partnership supporting and leading economic development activities and programs in SW Colorado. For more information on the Business Loan Fund visit www.scan.org or contact Loan Officers Jenny Stollar or Sanjiv Doreswamy, 247-9621 or jenny@scan.org, sanjiv@scan.org.

TECH HUB WITH A VIEW – New Video Highlights Grand Valley’s Tech Community

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) is pleased to present its latest video endeavor, “Grand (Silicon) Valley”, which highlights opportunities in Colorado’s Grand Valley for businesses and entrepreneurs in the technology realm. (View the video below.)

The video, sponsored by Colorado PERA and produced by Lightbulb Media in Grand Junction, Colo., kicks off with an introduction to Robert and Stephen Madsen, the father-son team behind local video game production company SynaptixGames. Their soon-to-be-released Virtual Reality game was projected against the landscape near the Lunch Loop Trails in Grand Junction, showing a literal integration between the local tech community and the environment in which they live, work and play.

“We wanted a video that would capture the unique lifestyle and work environment that is available to entrepreneurs in the Grand Valley,” said Cilia Kohn, GJEP Marketing Director. “You don’t need to be in a big city to be a successful tech business. Often you just need access to like-minded talent, funding and a wireless connection. The Grand Valley offers all that in a beautiful, outdoor setting unlike any other.”

The video also features Erica Witherspoon, Founder and CEO of Omnifica Consulting, who relocated to the Grand Valley from Silicon Valley (with previous roles at Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo) based on the lifestyle and outdoor recreation offered in the region. Other participants include Colorado Mesa University; Josh Hudnall, co-founder of the Western Colorado tech community organization, LAUNCHWestCO, and Grand Junction’s first coworking space, Factory; Jon Maraschin with The Business Incubator Center; and Page Tucker, CEO and Founder of ProStar Geocorp, and recent awardee of the Colorado Technology Association’s Entrepreneur Excellence Award.

In addition to capturing the quality of life in Colorado’s Grand Valley, the video shares more information about the Rural Jump-Start Tax Credit program, a veritable tax holiday for new business in the advanced technology field. Jump-Start started in the Grand Valley in January 2016 and has since supported eight companies start up or expand in the region, including ProStar Geocorp.

“As an innovative organization, PERA is always looking for ways to partner with organizations helping to spur new ideas and activities—especially in rural Colorado, where PERA’s economic impact is especially strong. We’re excited to join with PERA employers like CMU and OEDIT to help promote JumpStart Mesa County,” said Tara May, Chief Communications Officer for Colorado PERA.

The “Grand (Silicon) Valley” video launched at the Western Colorado Economic Summit on June 6. It is now available on www.gjep.org, www.jumpstartmesaco.com and circulating on social media.


Enjoy the video:

New Members Appointed to the Colorado Economic Development Commission

At the June 7th Economic Development Commission (EDC) meeting, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) welcomed five new appointees to the Commission. The five new appointees bring diverse experience to the EDC, which provides necessary oversight of OEDIT’s job creation incentives.

“We are looking forward to utilizing the new EDC members’ perspectives and expertise to continue growing a thriving economy and supporting rural Colorado,” said OEDIT executive director Stephanie Copeland. “We are confident their leadership, and commitment to Colorado, will enhance our work across the State.”

The honorable Senate President Kevin Grantham (R) appointed three new commissioners: Rob Brown from Fremont County, Tara Marshall from Trinidad, and Chris Franz from Colorado Springs as the Advanced Industries representative. Governor John Hickenlooper appointed Bob Hurst from Aspen and Tom Clark from Metro Denver. Commissioner bios are available at ChooseColorado.com.

Copeland also thanked exiting commissioners Noel Ginsberg and Chuck Murphy for their service on the Commission and dedication to the State.

The Colorado General Assembly created the EDC in 1987, and recently extended the EDC repeal date to July 1, 2025. The EDC is a bipartisan commission consisting of 11 members, with three being appointed by the President of the Senate, three appointed by the Speaker of the House, and five appointed by the Governor.

Programs the EDC is required by statute to oversee include:

  • The Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit program
  • The Strategic Fund
  • The Rural Jump Start Zone Program
  • The Enterprise Zone Program
  • The Advanced Industry Accelerator Grant Program
  • The Film Incentive Program

Since 2012, the EDC has approved incentives for the creation of 38,000 new jobs in Colorado at or above the average annual county wage where located. More information and the EDC annual report are available at ChooseColorado.com.

The Key to Regional Prosperity is Talent

Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) hosted its Regional Economic Development Forum, the second in a series of forums held around the state in 2017, at the Ranch Event Center, in Loveland, CO.

Inspired by Region 2, Larimer and Weld Counties, this one-day forum highlighted the continued growth in northern Colorado, associated challenges facing our communities, and current strategies in place to address these challenges.

“Our economic development challenges are universal in both our urban and rural communities here in northern Colorado and across the state,” said Rich Werner, president and CEO of Upstate Colorado Economic Development. “Workforce stability, transportation funding, and associated growth are something we pay constant attention too. This forum provided important context into strategies to address some of these challenges.”

Colorado is forecast to increase from 1.7 percent of the US population to 2.1 percent by 2050. Most of that growth will be seen on the Front Range. Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s state demographer, reported last Friday that Colorado’s labor force is changing. By 2030, Colorado’s 65 and older population will be 77 percent larger than it was in 2015. How does that affect the economy? “People over the age of 65 are starting to retire, they spend differently, and they buy different products and services,” Garner said. “This is a market that everybody needs to be looking at, especially in these two counties.” Garner challenged the audience by asking “have we thought about aging as a growth sector?” “How will this affect our retail, manufacturing, transportation or construction industries?”

So if our population is growing and we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, then why is it so hard for employers to fill many open positions?

Nationally, 46 percent of companies report they are having trouble finding talent. This in large part is due to the lack of experience in the workplace as well as the lack of technical and workplace competencies required. Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has been working to close this gap through a series of initiatives. “With the net migration increasing, if we don’t create diverse and emerging business centers around the state, we are going to have over population and congestion in areas that cannot afford it,” said Stephanie Copeland, OEDIT’s newly appointed executive director. “So we need to create communities that Coloradans want to be, have access to affordable housing, and a good job market.”

The key to regional prosperity is talent. Talent has a greater impact on regional prosperity than trade. Caroline Alexander, with Texas based consulting firm TIP Strategies, presented on a recent report commissioned by an economic development and workforce coalition in Larimer County. “Talent is the leading driver in today’s site selection decisions,” explained Alexander. “The availability of a skilled labor force has become more important than the cost of doing business.”

Out of this study an initiative has been created to address this challenge called Talent 2.0. The initiative will focus on the alignment of education and workforce resources more closely with the business community and the local talent pool; actively support employers in finding, attracting, and retaining the talent they need to succeed through the use of their sector partnerships, and collectively address structural issues that serve as barriers to secure a talent pipeline.

A barrier to accessing a talent pipeline in northern Colorado is transportation. Friday’s panel made up of local, state, and federal representatives presented on northern Colorado’s challenges to this growing statewide issue. With the continual increase in population growth along the Front Range and the absence of a reliable funding mechanism for transportation improvements, Larimer and Weld Counties are banding together to find that solution. “North I-25 is currently at a Level of Service D heading towards a Level of Service F by 2035,” David May, president and CEO of Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce stated, “which could mean our reality could be a three hour commute to Denver or DIA. We’ve got a real problem that needs to be solved.”

A two pronged strategy has been forged to help solve these issues. On the local level, Fix North I-25 (click to read more on Fix North I-25 goals). If they meet their adjectives, the changes could see an economic benefit of $1.1 billion form travel savings, lower vehicle operating cost, and more efficient business and freight logistics. Statewide, Fix Colorado Roads are looking to secure $3.5 million in bonding capacity, accelerate critical transportation projects throughout the state, and finding funding through both existing revenues and a new dedicated revenue source.

For more information on this event including speaker bios, presentations, and event photos, please visit www.edcconline.org.

Event supporters included:
Presenting Sponsors, City of Fort Collins, Upstate Colorado Economic Development, Town of Windsor, Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade | Gold Sponsors, Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media, Northern Colorado Economic Alliance | Platinum Sponsors, Colorado Workforce Development Council Sector Partnerships, Poudre Valley REA, Metro Denver EDC | Media Sponsor, Loveland Reporter-Herald

Amazon to open new fulfillment center in Thornton

City of Thornton announced on June 12, 2017 that Amazon, the electronic commerce and cloud computing company, is building a new fulfillment center in Thornton.

The footprint of the new building Amazon is working with Trammell Crow Company to build is 855,000 square feet, but the building will have three floors making it a 2.4 million square foot fulfillment and robotics center on about 80 acres at the Northeast corner of Interstate 25 and 144th Avenue.  Construction is set to begin in early June of this year with an anticipated opening date of August, 2018.  The facility will be different than the other fulfillment centers in Colorado because it will be an Amazon Sort Facility, meaning it will only handle product that is 18 inches and smaller and includes a large amount of robotics.  The facility is anticipated to employ over 1,500 full-time people with an increase for seasonal workers around the holidays.

“We are excited to continue growing in Colorado with the new Amazon Robotics fulfillment center in Thornton,” said Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s Vice President of North American Operations. “This facility will utilize Amazon Robotics, vision systems, and more than 20 years’ worth of software and mechanical innovations. We are grateful for the support we have received from state and local leaders who have helped make this project possible.”

The 2.4 million square foot facility will be the largest industrial building in Colorado.  Given the short timeframe of just 14 months for development of such a large scale and innovative facility, the project required an “all hands on deck” approach from the development team in Thornton. Thornton’s business-friendly development process made this project possible in the timeframe allowed.  This includes the recently implemented Economic Significance program, which allows for administrative development review for projects in the North I-25 corridor.

“The city of Thornton is extremely excited Amazon chose to locate this state-of-the art facility in Thornton.  Amazon’s commitment to the communities where their fulfillment centers are located is impressive” said Thornton Mayor Heidi Williams. “They will be the largest employer in Thornton and represent the cutting edge of innovation in the e-commerce market.  This highlights what a great location Thornton is for Fortune 500 companies and will continue to advance Thornton’s employment center in the Northern part of the city”.

“The city of Thornton understands economic development and has the attitude and processes necessary to attract job growth,” stated Bill Mosher, Senior Managing Director of Trammell Crow Company’s Denver Business Unit. Mosher added, “Our original interest in this site was based on excellent access and strong demographics related to employment and growth. For a company of Amazon’s stature to select Thornton and this site, it is a testimonial of the future of the north I-25 corridor.”

“We are pleased to continue working with Amazon as it grows and creates jobs in Colorado,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Our talented workforce will have the opportunity to learn new, valuable skills with Amazon and work alongside innovative technology. We look forward to the great jobs with competitive wages and comprehensive benefits that Amazon will bring to the state.”