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CO Mutual Prosperity Program, Economic Development Readiness & Collaboration among topics discussed at Regional Forum

Pueblo, CO – On Thursday, June 27 the Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) held its Regional Economic Development Forum, focusing on planning regions 4, 7, 8, 13 & 14, including Alamosa, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Custer, El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Lake, Las Animas, Mineral, Park, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache, and Teller counties. These regional forums have given the statewide organization and its members an in-depth view of the economic challenges and opportunities facing our communities around the state.

Over 130 statewide economic development stakeholders were in attendance and engaged with experts on what it means to be economic development ready and how it impacts investment decisions, growing businesses and attracting a skilled labor force. Opportunity zones, a program enacted in the 2017 tax reform package designed to spur investment in rural and low-income urban communities, has highlighted inefficiencies of required infrastructure needed to spur investment interest. Panel experts discussed ways in which communities can utilize their local utility providers to make development sites investment ready.

“As this year’s presenting sponsor, it was fantastic to see economic development advocates, and community and business leaders from across the state converge in Pueblo,” said Vance Crocker, Black Hills Energy’s vice president of Colorado Electric. “Black Hills Energy appreciates the efforts of local leaders and organizations committed to driving economic development in Southern Colorado and we will continue to do our part to support readiness in the communities we serve.”

A theme that came out of the day’s sessions was “collaboration.” From workforce, transportation, to utilities and broadband, it’s essential that communities work together to solve these complex issues that span borders. By harnessing relationships with neighboring communities and collaborating on marketing efforts, communities will be able to fill in their asset gaps and proximity to markets. Regionalism isn’t just for economic development, attendees learned about collaborative approaches that have helped industry clusters solve issues like building a necessary supply chain or developing a talent pipeline to support the industry. 

Betsy Markey, executive director for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) highlighted the Governor’s priorities and the various programs available to our communities including the newly announced economic development initiative aimed at encouraging economic prosperity throughout rural Colorado. Colorado’s Mutual Prosperity (COMP) Program incentivizes 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.

“We are very excited about the potential impact that our new COMP program can have on rural Colorado,” said Markey. “How fitting that we would announce it just prior to the EDCC Regional Forum on collaboration. Colorado is renowned for its collaborative environment and this program will help spread Colorado’s economic prosperity throughout our great state.”

I’m so proud of the work that EDCC is doing in collaborating with key local stakeholders to put together relevant and unique content for each of these regional forums across the state. These forums are meant to serve as a mechanism to bring people together to learn about resources they can tap into, spur new ideas, and help economic development professionals and local leaders and stakeholders engage in discussions that can ultimately advance economic development efforts in our communities. I’m absolutely confident this forum hit that mark,” said Tammy Fields, EDCC Board Chair and Sr. Vice President, Economic Development for Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC.

Event supporters:
Presenting Sponsor & Pre-Conference Tour/Reception: Black Hills Energy
Statewide Partner: Colorado Workforce Development Council
Keynote Lunch Sponsor: Colorado Office of Economic Development & Int’l Trade
Platinum Sponsor: Pueblo Community College
Breakfast Sponsor: Spanish Peaks Business Alliance
Regional Sponsors: Colorado Springs Chamber & EDCSangre de Cristo Electric AssociationPueblo Economic Development Co., and PuebloPlex
Media Sponsors: Wet Mountain Tribune