New State Incentive Aims to Help Disperse Job Growth

This incentive program aims to bring hot jobs to rural towns

Luke Meyer works from the Factory co-working space in Grand Junction. Co-working spaces in more rural communities could receive a boost through new state remote rural work program incentives. Photo credit: Will Campbell.

Another business news headline about an out-of-state company bringing good-paying jobs to the busy Front Range normally would not excite Trae Miller, who lives in the rural town of Sterling, population 15,000. But a new offering in Colorado’s job growth incentive program aims to bring some of those hot jobs to smaller towns such as his.

The Remote Rural Work Program kicked off in July to provide additional tax incentives to companies bringing 20 new jobs to the state and hiring at least one remote worker. The aim is to help disperse job-growth prosperity into rural areas.

“This opens new possibilities for us to work more closely with the state and our metro area economic development partners for rural access to high-paying jobs,” says Miller, executive director at Logan County Economic Development Corp.

Officials at the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) say the new incentive is in response to feedback from private companies and economic development directors in rural counties, where one good-paying job can have a greater economic impact as a percentage of a small-town economy.

Dispersing employment prosperity can also create happier workers who increasingly want more flexibility in where they live and how they work. Officials note that rural job growth is another strategy to reduce the crush of metro commuters on Front Range roads.

“It’s exciting that the state is being creative in constructing their incentives programs to help communities statewide in attracting talent for important projects,” says Tammy Fields, board chair of the Economic Development Council of Colorado. “The goal is to have all of our communities thrive.”

Fields says that with lower unemployment rates in larger counties, the Remote Rural Work Program can help incoming companies find enough workers to fill specific talent needs. The program could assist, for example, with firms needing numerous employees in IT software development, energy technology, sales or other location-neutral or satellite office positions.

“Companies looking for a significant labor pool would not normally go to a smaller market,” Fields says. “This program allows companies to tap into that workforce in those communities where those people want to live.”

The performance-based strategy provides a standard Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit for urban/rural job creation with an additional Strategic Fund cash incentive for each remote job created in an eligible rural county. Those rural jobs must occur in the 40 counties already eligible for the Rural JumpStart program, which primarily represents counties lagging in economic development on the edges of Colorado along with Clear Creek and Lake counties.

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