Roberts introduces bill to extend, tweak Rural Jump-Start program
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat and native of Steamboat Springs, has introduced a bill to extend and expand the Rural Jump-Start economic development tax credit in an effort to promote economic development in rural areas of Colorado — including Routt County.
“I think the program’s been incredibly positive for rural Colorado, and we’re starting to see the impact of it in Routt County,” said Roberts, whose district includes Eagle and Routt counties. “I wanted to introduce legislation to continue the program for five more years, as well as change some of the details about the program, so that more businesses can have access to it.”
The Rural Jump-Start program provides specific tax relief to new businesses and new hires of the businesses that are located in certain designated areas of rural Colorado.
Former Democratic state governor John Hickenlooper signed the program into law in May 2015, and it was launched in 2016. The program was slated to run for six years and will sunset at the end of this year. No new zones or businesses will be approved after Dec. 31 without the extension.
“It’s a big deal,” said Bob Pole, a Steamboat Springs businessman. “Certainly the Rural Jump-Start program was something that we never anticipated when we decided to do what we do.”
Pole, and his son RJ, are the founders of hearOclub a Steamboat-based hearing aid subscription service that has expanded its reach to more than 40 states since beginning operations last year.
“I have to admit that we’re not far enough along where (it was) going to affect us too much in 2019, but we anticipate a lot of benefits in the next few years,” Pole said. “It’s really a terrific thing, and we’re very grateful for it.”
John Bristol, director of economic development for the Steamboat Springs Chamber, was thrilled that Roberts introduced the bill this session, and said it’s one of several economic-related bills that he is watching this session.
“There are several economic development-related bills in the legislature this year that I am tracking and keeping a close eye on,” Bristol said. “Programs like the Rural Jump-Start and some others that really impact rural communities.”
He is also watching the Rural Economic Development Initiative program, which is designed to help rural communities comprehensively diversify their local economy and create a more resilient Colorado. Bristol said Oak Creek and Hayden have been able to take advantage of that program in the past.
“Unless the legislature reauthorizes Rural Jump-Start, it will go away in 2021,” Roberts said from the Colorado Capital on Tuesday. “I think the program’s been incredibly positive for rural Colorado, and we’re starting to see the impact of it in Routt County. I wanted to introduce legislation to continue the program for five more years, as well as changing some of the details about the program so that more businesses can have access to it.”
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