New business toolkit details economic incentives for Moffat County and Craig
Moffat County commissioners want folks to know the county is open for business.
The Moffat County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, Aug. 6 unveiled a new business opportunity toolkit at its regular meeting. According to commissioners, the toolkit is the culmination of months worth of work and is an outline of workforce assets and tax incentives for businesses thinking of calling Moffat County home.
“We’ve been working on this since fairly early this spring,” said Commissioner Don Cook on Tuesday.
The toolkit contains information many residents already know — Moffat County has some 4,750 square miles of open country for recreation, agriculture, and other interests in close proximity to cities like Salt Lake City, Denver, Grand Junction, and Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Moffat’s population is a little more than 13,000 with a labor force of almost 8,000 and an unemployment rate of 3.1%. Most of Moffat County’s industry centers around the mining industry with some $10.3 million in wages; followed by health care and social assistance, $10 million in wages; public administration, about $7.5 million in wages; and retail trade with about $4.9 million in wages.
There’s also data related to the average home cost in Moffat County of about $169,000 compared to the average home price in Routt County of about $460,000. Numbers are similar when comparing Craig’s average home price of $161,600 to Steamboat Springs’ average home price of $516,900.
“You could actually buy three houses in Craig for the price of one in Steamboat,” said Mindy Curtis, Moffat County’s finance director, who unveiled the toolkit presentation to commissioners this week.
Curtis also pointed out more than 1,000 residents — about 15% of the workforce — are living in Moffat County while working in and commuting to Routt County.
“Living in Moffat County is worth the commute,” Curtis said.
Moffat County’s new toolkit also sums up the challenges this community and others face as the prospect of losing the area’s coal industry looms larger — saying agriculture and recreation will play a major part in softening the economic blow when or if coal is phased out.
“In addition to an agriculture background, Moffat County historically has had coal mining supporting their local power plant as part of the local economy,” the toolkit said. “Through regulatory changes impacting the existing coal industry, we would like to retain the jobs affected by these changes, moving to other industries and job creation compatible with the agriculture and recreation opportunities of the county.”
Curtis said Craig and Moffat County will have to find ways to replace the jobs that will be inevitably lost when coal leaves.
“Jobs will basically need to be created in agriculture and recreation to replace those lost by coal,” Curtis said.
Moffat County’s toolkit outlines four incentives that can be used by businesses thinking about coming to Moffat County.
- The area is an enhanced rural enterprise zone, providing tax credits to investors who spend money on job training, new employees, healthcare for employees, research and development, vacant commercial building rehabilitation, and more.
- A portion of Craig is an opportunity zone, providing for a temporary relief from income taxes for capital gains that are reinvested into an opportunity fund. These income tax breaks on capital gains could become permanent if investment in the opportunity fund is held for at least 10 years.
- Moffat County is a designated Colorado Rural Jump Start program zone for up to eight years of rebates for business personal property tax, county sales, and use taxes for tangible personal property used within the zone. Businesses must be just starting out and cannot directly compete with any other local business’ core function.
- County incentives exist for new or existing businesses looking to expand facilities who can get a break on their personal property owned in Moffat County.
Commissioner Ray Beck said many of these business incentives have existed for some time, but officials haven’t always marketed them properly.
“A lot of these tax credits have been out there, we just haven’t been promoting them like we probably should,” Beck said.
Commissioner Cook said the entire toolkit was needed to increase economic development and bring in more businesses.
“We gotta try something, so we need to try and move the city and the county and the community,” Cook said. “…We figured we had to start somewhere to try and bring businesses in.”
Jeff Comstock, Moffat County’s natural resource manager, said there’s another incentive to doing business in Moffat County.
“We have the most business-friendly regulatory environment of all the counties around us,” Comstock said.
Beck wants businesses to know Moffat County is the place to be.
“Colorado’s great northwest is open for business,” Beck said.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has filed a protest with federal regulators seeking to block the bid by the power provider for rural electric cooperatives to jump from state to federal oversight.