Our view: Jump-starting business recruitment | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Jump-starting business recruitment

At issue: Routt County has been added to the state’s Rural Jump-Start Zone program. Our view: The addition of Routt County to the program should help attract new businesses to Routt County.

Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

We were impressed this week to hear that the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association embraced Routt County’s addition to Colorado’s Rural Jump-Start Zone program in spite of the fact that the program won’t be extended to the city limits of Steamboat Springs.

We interpret that endorsement as a positive sign that business leaders here understand how closely the economy of the city is tied to the overall economy of the county, and that inevitably, an increasing share of business growth here is likely to take place outside the city limits.

Jump-Start is administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Trade, and it partners with local governments to provide incentives to qualifying businesses in the form of relief from: state income and sales and use taxes; county and municipal personal property taxes; and state income taxes for their employees for up to eight years.

That’s no small incentive for businesses thinking about opening a business in Northwest Colorado. Jump-Start puts rural areas of Colorado on more even footing with the urban Front Range.

But the incentives are not a handout.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development requires that eligible new businesses locate in Routt County and create at least five new jobs paying at or above the county’s average annual wage. They would also be required to consult with Colorado Northwestern Community College, which is active in West and South Routt.

The reason Steamboat Springs was excluded from the local Jump-Start Zone is that when the higher average wage in the city is folded into that of the rest of the county, it exceeds the limits of the statewide program.

We’ve observed modest business growth in both Oak Creek and Hayden over the past few years.

Oak Creek has taken great strides to upgrade its main street infrastructure, establishing a new platform for economic growth.

And Hayden voters too, have approved a plan to fund upgrades to key streets. And the town has launched a marketing campaign promoting Hayden as a place where working families can buy a home and prosper. With a developed industrial park waiting for tenants, we think Hayden is well positioned to land new employers.

We believe the requirement that any new business that qualifies for the Jump-Start tax credits must pay wages at, or above average in the community is one of the most important aspects of the program. The implication is that these aren’t just jobs, but good jobs, which can go a good distance toward supporting a household.

The creation of new jobs that pay well by local standards is one of the keys to maintaining the middle class that makes the Yampa Valley the community that it is.

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