Economic partnership makes a ‘big ask’ from Steamboat Springs City Council

John Bristol, the executive director of the Routt County Economic Development Partnership, is seeking $147,509 from the city of Steamboat Springs to help the investor-led economic development organization expand and diversify commerce in Routt County. 

During a presentation before City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Bristol said the economic development partnership would use the money to support the retention, expansion and attraction of primary businesses and jobs.

“Those businesses that are selling their goods and services outside of the county, bringing new dollars, new capital back into the county,” Bristol said.

A high priority for the economic development partnership is attracting new businesses through the rural jump-start program, which provides tax credits and networking opportunities to businesses new to Colorado in “rural jump-start zones,” as defined in a state bill passed in 2015. 

During Bristol’s presentation, he described the Location Neutral Employment (LONE) program, which provides cash incentives for businesses that are new to Colorado to hire remote workers in an eligible county outside of the county where the project is based.

Routt County is classified as a “Just Transition Rural Jump-Start” county, meaning that for each remote worker residing in Routt County that a new-to-Colorado business hires, the company receives $5,000.

If Bristol’s funding requests are approved, the partnership’s 2023 budget of $428,516 would be comprised of a $130,000 investment from Routt County, $147,509 from Steamboat Springs, $11,583 from Hayden, $4,245 from Oak Creek and $2,879 from the town of Yampa. 

The partnership’s budget also projects $77,300 coming from private investors and $55,000 from grants and other sources.

Bristol said he based the requested amounts on calculations derived from local municipalities’ population, assessed valuation and size of their general fund.

During his presentation, Bristol identified three economic sectors that he feels are most in need of growth in Routt County. Manufacturing, company and enterprise management, and professional, scientific and technical services were described as well below the state average in Routt. 

The gray lines on this bar graph show the national workforce averages by industry, while the blue bars show how Routt County compares.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

In the past six months, according to Bristol, the Routt County Economic Development Partnership has help secure $295,000 in grant funding for businesses. He anticipates 62 new direct jobs being created by the work of his organization. He forecasts salaries north of $46,000 a year with a total of over $2.8 million per year in new Routt County incomes. 

“Economic impact (is) about $29 million,” Bristol said. “That’s not guaranteed yet, but that is the hope.”

City Council praised Bristol on his presentation but asked for more details about what the organization does.

“We want to be able to give you money, but we want to know what works,” said City Council member Heather Sloop, who added the amount being requested qualifies as a “big ask.”

Bristol agreed to council’s request.  

Discussion about the request for funding will potentially continue during City Council’s regular meeting on Oct. 4.

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