Cortez has been reapproved to be a part of the state’s Rural Jump-Start Program in an effort to attract new businesses and jobs to the city.
The idea behind the program is to help rural, economically distressed communities become more attractive for new and relocating businesses.
If a new business in the area meets a specific set of requirements, it can qualify for significant incentive payments and relief from state income, property and sales taxes.
“We think it is an awesome incentive for a business that wants to relocate into Colorado,” said Laura Lewis Marchino, Executive Director of the Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado. “They’re trying to keep businesses from all going to the Denver area.”
A qualifying business must be new to the area and “non-duplicative.”
This means it must offer a unique product or service.
According to Marchino, the business must also create at least five local jobs that pay an above-average wages.
Cortez qualifies for the program because Montezuma County has been designated by the Colorado Economic Development Commission as “economically distressed.”
A county must hit at least three of the commission’s economic distress requirements. Some of these requirements include having a per capita income that’s at least 20% below the state average, having a countywide personal income that’s at least 20% below the state average and an average unemployment level during the past five years that’s at least 20% above the state average.
A business from Cortez can only join the program if it is a unique start-up that meets difficult qualifications.
Cortez first joined the program in June 2017. It will now participate for another five years, according to Marchino.
Mancos and Dolores recently joined the program, opting in within the last six months.
So far, the program has struggled to bring any new businesses to the region.
According to Marchino, the coronavirus pandemic has hampered active recruitment.
“We’re not seeing a lot of unique businesses come into the area,” Marchino said.
While many remote workers have been moving, businesses have not done the same.
The program has seen some success around Grand Junction and Montrose.
According to Marchino, one business is considering using the program in Archuleta County.