Bill to extend grant money, tax credit incentives for new rural small businesses heads to Colorado Senate

Posted at 12:13 PM, May 01, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-01 14:13:23-04

DENVER — A bill extending grant money and tax credit incentives for new rural small business owners has passed the Colorado House of Representatives.

Colorado Sun Tofu, a food manufacturing company in Trinidad, got its start-up costs through the statewide Rural Jump Start program. It offers new rural business owners in Colorado tax relief up to $40,000 to start, and up to $5,000 for every new hire.

"The difference in having the opportunity of the tax credits and also the grants is the difference in us being able to open or not open," CEO Lauren Roberts said.

HB24-1001 would extend the program another two years from July 2024. It now moves to the state Senate.

"If the [program doesn't continue] we are going to see a closure of businesses, a decline in job opportunities and our rural communities will get hit the hardest," Roberts said.

Roberts relied on the program to hire six employees in the first six months of business. Without this grant program continuing, Roberts said the goal of doubling the number of workers in the next year would be nearly impossible.

Sales have doubled within the first six months and more workers are needed.

"The staff we have found have been incredible, talented, dedicated, there's a diverse skill set and long history of manufacturing in the area," Roberts said.

Pueblo Community College (PCC) has been a Rural Jump Start Program sponsor for years. It helped three businesses get started in Pueblo County.

"We both benefit from the relationship and for businesses, we can help provide them with a pipeline of students who are graduating to fill their open positions," PCC's Corporate College Executive Director Amanda Corum said.

To qualify for this program, the new business must start in a county with a population of fewer than 250,000 people.

The county must also meet economic distress factors, which means the area has a low average income or a high unemployment rate.

Right now, 43 out of Colorado's 46 counties qualify.

"We have a lot of folks in rural communities that travel to larger areas to seek employment so to keep that funding in the county and community is all the better," Corum said.

Small businesses can now apply for grants.

Rural Jump Start programs for rural entrepreneurs moves forward in state legislature