Jump-start offered for new businesses in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Jump-start offered for new businesses in Routt County

Local  economic development officials have confirmed that Routt County has been added to a short list of rural communities in Colorado that are qualified to offer limited forgiveness of state income, and sales and use taxes, to business startups or businesses that relocate to their communities.

Colorado's eleven-member Economic Development Commission unanimously approved Routt County to join the Rural Jump-Start Zone Program, which is administered by the governor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Routt becomes one of  12 designated zones in the state that are allowed to offer incentives to attract new businesses.

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Director of Economic Development John Bristol likened the incentives offered to businesses through Jump-Start to those being offered to major metro areas vying for Amazon's second headquarters — just on a much (much) smaller scale.

"I'm the local liaison for new businesses thinking about moving here," Bristol said,  and in addition to describing the local business climate he can say, "Here are the incentives available to you."

However the potential impacts of Rural Jump-Start will make the greatest impact outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs; for Routt County to fit within the program's maximum average income per capita, Steamboat had to be written out of the application. 

The 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 work in partnership with Colorado Northwestern Community College, which is active in West and South Routt.

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In exchange, an eligible new business would receive relief from Colorado 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.

Bristol said the first four years of tax relief are assured and the second four years are extended if the business continues to meet the requirements. He pointed out that the exemption of income taxes for employees is intended to help business owners recruit employees.

Hayden Town Manager Mathew Mendisco predicted the Jump-Start  program will help his community attract businesses to its existing business park not far from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

"Last year we completed an economic development assessment to help us be more strategic in our business development and economic efforts, so it's timely to add tools like this to help support and attract business," Mendisco said.

Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski was instrumental  in bringing Jump-Start here.

"Supporting small business growth, increasing industry diversification and supporting wage growth are sound economic development strategies," she said in a news release.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.