Routt County Dems: Rep. Dylan Roberts is a champion for local small business
Here in our mountain communities, small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They provide essential services to our residents, employ thousands of locals with good-paying jobs, and truly make the character of our communities.
During the pandemic and through this uneven economic recovery, small businesses across the state — and particularly here in Routt County — have been fortunate for the work of our state Rep. Dylan Roberts’ leadership on small business legislation.
In 2020, Rep. Roberts was appointed as the chair of the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee. This put him at the helm of our state’s economic recovery from the pandemic and positioned him as a leader in working for small businesses and the employees that power them across the state.
Rep. Roberts put politics aside and focused on results as he and his colleagues passed several pieces of legislation that significantly help small businesses and workers here in Routt County and across the state. These are some examples.
Rural Jump-Start Program
Rep. Roberts was the lead sponsor of the 2020 bill that expanded and extended the Rural Jump-Start Program, which incentivizes small businesses to open their doors and hire employees in rural counties across Colorado.
The program grants performance-based tax credits that benefit both business owners and employees. Several new businesses here in Routt County have already benefited. The legislation also extended the program for five more years and loosened the qualification requirements so that more parts of the state and more businesses are eligible.
Roberts has been a leader in helping one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic: our local restaurants. In 2021, he passed a bill to allow restaurants to continue the COVID-era rule allowing the sale of to-go alcohol with food, an extra revenue source that has been credited by hundreds of restaurants as the key factor in keeping their doors open and retaining employees. This year, he introduced and passed a bill that is allowing restaurants to save money by letting them keep the sales tax they collect from July-September to use for employee wages, increased food costs, and to expand their businesses.
Small Agriculture Producers
Rep. Roberts continues to be a champion for small agriculture producers by introducing and passing bills to allow ranchers to more quickly process their meat and get it to market and co-sponsoring a bill creating recovery loan opportunities for agriculture producers.
Child care affordability is a top issue here in Routt County, and. Rep. Roberts stepped up to cut costs for child care businesses and help working families. The first bill he introduced this year cuts property taxes for childcare centers — a huge savings that will help existing centers to retain or hire more employees and hopefully incentivize new centers to open their doors. He’s also co-sponsored legislation to raise provider pay and loosen regulations getting in the way of home childcare centers opening in our neighborhoods.
Rep. Roberts continues to be a leader in lowering the cost of health care and those efforts are significantly helping small businesses. For example, in his Colorado Option bill, which will create a new, more affordable health care plan in this state, he fought to make sure that small businesses are eligible for this plan and can purchase more affordable health insurance for their employees. Starting this fall, plans will be available to businesses in Routt County with 100 employees or less.
Roberts helped shepherd through the largest investment in affordable housing in Colorado’s history. His amendments emphasized funding be prioritized for local workforce housing to support essential workers our small businesses rely on like teachers, police officers, nurses and small business employees. He successfully changed bills to ensure that rural resort communities like ours receive a dedicated source of affordable housing support.
Rural and resort communities and their small businesses like ours in Routt County could easily be left behind in policymaking dominated by Front Range legislators, but Rep. Roberts has stepped up for us.
Every one of the bills he passed had bipartisan support, were signed into law by the governor and are making a positive impact today. We are lucky to have a champion of rural small business and working families advocating for us at the state capitol.
This monthly column is being provided by the Routt County Democrats. For more, RouttDems.org.
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