Rio Grande BOCC to join Rural Jumpstart Program

Photo by Lyndsie Ferrell Morgan Vankat with the Colorado State Rural Jumpstart Program gave a presentation to Rio Grande County Commissioners on Wednesday, Oct. 5, to talk about the program and the potential benefit it may have for new business owners coming from out of state to start a business in the county.

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Commissioners listened to a presentation by Morgan Vankat through the Colorado Rural Jumpstart Program and Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) Director Sarah Stoeber.

The program is designed to offer tax incentives to new, out-of-state businesses who are looking to start a business in areas like the San Luis Valley.

Vankat began her presentation by pointing out that of all the rural jumpstart areas that have formed throughout Colorado, the San Luis Valley is pretty much the only place that doesn’t have the program and that she wanted to see that change.

“As you can see, pretty much the last few areas throughout the state that don’t have the Rural Jumpstart Program consists of pretty much the entire San Luis Valley, and I want to see that change,” Vankat said.

Rio Grande County and other counties in the Valley offer a few different incentives to new businesses including Enterprise Zone tax breaks and other grant-funded loan programs that assist new businesses in getting established and being successful for years to come. The new Jumpstart Program would be similar and add to the growing “toolbox” the county has to offer businesses the perfect place to open their doors.

The Rural Jumpstart Program helps economically distressed communities attract new businesses and jobs. Counties, municipalities, higher education institutions and or economic development organizations work together to apply for this program.

When a community is a designated Rural Jumpstart zone, new businesses can receive incentive payments and tax relief including credits, exemptions, and refunds from: state income tax, state sales and use tax and county and municipal personal property taxes. Employees of new businesses receive a tax credit for 100% of state income taxes on their wages for work in the Rural Jumpstart zone. The Rural Jumpstart Program began in January 2016 and will accept applications through Dec. 31, 2025.

This program is a two-fold opportunity that cultivates economic activity in specifically targeted rural counties while providing tax breaks to new companies that chose to locate within those counties. The counties receive the benefit of attracting new businesses to their communities, and these businesses can boost the local economy while receiving tax relief for four years with the opportunity to apply for an extension of an additional four years.

Some of the more challenging setbacks with the program make it difficult for businesses to qualify for but due to the nature of the economy at the present time, Vankat is confident that it wouldn’t take long for a business to be interested in the San Luis Valley and move here.

For instance, the program requires a business to be completely non-competitive. If someone in the business of making soap wants to move into the San Luis Valley and be part of the program, it would only be allowed to do so if there are no other soap-making businesses in the county it is moving to or neighboring counties within a certain range. This is only one example of the qualifications a business must go through to be part of the program. The qualifying business also must be from outside of Colorado.

The biggest incentive of being a qualifying business is the grant opportunities built into the program that allows up to a certain amount of grant to be awarded and used for operating costs. This is a one-of-a-kind grant opportunity for the business as no other similar grant programs exist that allow the grant funding to be used for operation of the business.

Rio Grande County Commissioners opted to join the program and be a part of the Rural Jumpstart community and will be drafting a resolution to be approved within the coming month.