Craig and Moffat County vote to create Rural Jump-Start Zone

Lauren Blair

— A new statewide business recruitment program got a jump start Tuesday with unanimous approval from both Moffat County Commissioners and Craig City Council to designate both the city and county as a Rural Jump-Start Zone.

The Rural Jump-Start Program offers tax relief incentives to help rural regions of Colorado recruit new industry and business.

Both county and city officials favored resolutions that not only granted qualifying businesses exemption from business personal property tax, but also city and county property taxes and city and county sales and use taxes.

“If we’re recruiting new businesses, we’re going to offer them these types of incentives anyway,” said Craig City Manager Mike Foreman Tuesday night. “This is a great opportunity for us to be involved in.”

Qualifying businesses — which must be a startup or out-of-state business and must not directly compete with any other business in the state — must meet job creation and wage requirements in order to earn tax credits.

“These jobs are good-paying jobs that can start to replace some of those that we are losing in the energy industry,” said Michelle Balleck, executive director for Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership.

Colorado Northwestern Community College will play a key role as the sponsoring institution of higher education. With the formal resolutions in place, CNCC Vice President Janell Oberlander will apply for Moffat County’s participation in the program Wednesday.

“Michelle has done a great job preparing the elected officials on this initiative,” Oberlander said.

Balleck has been holding workshops and meetings with officials since October.

“I’m really excited that we have county and city support,” she said. “I think this is a great tool to have in our kit to attract businesses to our community and shows a progressive step forward for our economy’s future.”

Mesa County was the first to implement the program and successfully recruited seven new businesses in 2016. The program was signed into law as the Rural Jump-Start Zone Act in 2015 by Governor Hickenlooper.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1795 or or follow her on Twitter @LaurenBNews.

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