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Colorado Incentives and Workforce Development Guide

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Advanced Industries (AI) Accelerator Programs:
OEDIT offers four types of grants and two global business programs in support of Colorado’s advanced industries—Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioscience, Electronics, Energy and Natural Resources, Infrastructure Engineering, and Technology and Information. Grants are available for Proof of Concept, Early-Stage Capital & Retention, Infrastructure Funding and AI Exports. A network of consultants and export training program are also available as part of the AI Global Business Programs to support these industries as they strive for worldwide markets.
Local Infrastructure Assistance:
Designed to create new permanent jobs and retain existing jobs, primarily for low- and moderate-income persons. It encourages new business development, expansions and retentions of businesses located in non-entitlement cities and counties. Funds may be provided for the construction and/or improvement of water lines & wastewater facilities, sewer lines, sewage treatment facilities, roadways, natural gas-line services, electric power services, railroad spurs, lighting, sidewalks and alternative power sources such as solar.
State of Colorado Business Loan Funds:
Every year, the State of Colorado receives an allocation of federal funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use for both community development and economic development efforts in the state. The funds are allocated to the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), which uses the funds for community development projects, such as housing and public facilities. OEDIT receives approximately 1/3 of the annual allocation of funds to use specifically for economic development efforts statewide. OEDIT uses its allocation of funds to capitalize the state’s Business Loan Funds. Currently, the state has 15 Business Loan Fund locations which have service areas covering the majority of the rural areas of the state. The state’s program does not cover any of the metropolitan or ‘entitlement’ cities in Colorado (since these communities receive their own allocation of funds). The 15 programs are responsible for promoting and fostering economic development efforts at the local level by providing financial assistance in the form of loans and loan guarantees to businesses in their respective regions. The loan program is locally driven, with each loan fund having its own local loan review committee and local Board of Directors who approve the types of businesses they feel will have a positive economic impact in the community. All funding decisions (of $100,000 or less) are made at the local level, with final oversight approval provided by OEDIT. All funding requests over $100,000 also require final approval by the Governor’s Financial Review Committee.
Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF):
Nonprofit lending source specializing in loans that range from $1,000 to $250,000 to support small and startup business by offering loans, guidance, training and resources. Many small businesses that are not able to receive traditional bank financing can get support through CEF.
Colorado Film Incentive Program:
Offers producers a 10% cash rebate for production costs taking place in Colorado. It covers feature films (both independent and studio), television pilots, television series (broadcast and cable), television commercials, music videos, industrials, documentaries and video game design and creation. To qualify for the program, a Colorado production company must have qualified in-state spending of at least $100,000 on the project while an out-of-state production company must have at least $250,000 in qualifying expenses. In addition to the qualifying expenses, at least 25% of the workforce on every project must be Colorado residents in order for the project to meet state incentive guidelines.
Job Creation Performance Incentive Fund (PIF):
Provides a performance-based incentive payment to qualifying companies that have created and hired net new full-time permanent jobs paying above average wages. The employer must maintain all of the new jobs for at least one year in order to claim an incentive from $1,500 to $4,500 per net new full-time job. The program is designed to support and encourage new business development, business expansions and relocations that have generated new jobs throughout the state.
Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program:
Grants are provided to Offices of Technology Transfer at qualified Colorado nonprofit research institutions for advancing bioscience research toward commercialization. Grants are also available to qualified early-stage Colorado bioscience companies that are commercializing technologies founded at one of Colorado’s qualified research institutions. Additionally, OEDIT is using some of the funds to develop infrastructure that results from the cooperation of industry and research institutions, and that will support the development of the industry throughout the state.
Colorado Export Development Grant:
Attempts to increase Colorado companies’ ability to export products and services to global markets. The Colorado International Trade Office (ITO) funds this grant to assist Colorado exporters of products and services in all sectors of manufacturing and services, excluding agricultural commodities and food products. The CEDG will provide funding for Colorado small and medium-sized enterprises (200 or fewer employees worldwide) that may be applied towards travel expenses, trade show exhibition and/or attendance, business matchmaking services or other direct expenses for developing a new target market.
Strategic Fund:
Provides funding for incentives and various economic development activities in Colorado. It may provide a cash incentive to a business that creates and maintains net new jobs generally with above average wage rates in Colorado. The incentive amount is based on a cost per job calculation after the Colorado Economic Development Commission (EDC) has reviewed various factors and the level of non-state and local matching funds. A project introduction must be provided to the EDC prior to any announcements being made or the project proceeding. A business may receive an incentive through the Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit or from the Strategic Fund but may not receive an incentive from both programs for the same net new job growth. Additionally, the Strategic Fund provides funding for various economic development activities in Colorado, which includes economic development marketing activities completed by state agencies, funding for business incubators and support for targeted industries.
Public Infrastructure Grants:
The Infrastructure Assistance program is designed to create new permanent jobs and retain existing jobs, primarily for low and moderate income persons. This federally funded program encourages new business development, expansions and retentions of businesses located in non-entitlement cities and counties. Typically, eligible improvements are owned and/or maintained by a public or quasi-public entity. Funds may be provided for the construction and/or improvement of:
  • Water Lines & Wastewater Facilities
  • Sewer Lines, Sewage Treatment Facilities
  • Roadways
  • Natural Gas-Line Services
  • Electric Power Services
  • Railroad Spurs
  • Lighting
  • Sidewalks
  • Alternative Power Sources such as Solar


Aircraft Manufacturer New Employee Tax Credit:
Aircraft manufacturers located in a Colorado aviation development zone may qualify for a state income tax credit of $1,200 per new employee. An aviation development zone’ is any airport in Colorado that is a public-use facility designated by the FAA in its latest National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems, which has registered with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). A business or portion of a business involved in the maintenance of aircraft is not eligible. If a facility performs both manufacturing and maintenance functions, only employees working exclusively in the manufacturing portion of the business may qualify for the credit.
Biotechnology Sales & Use Tax Refund:
Biotechnology industries may recover the sales and use taxes paid in the preceding year on equipment and supplies purchased to conduct biotechnology research and development. Qualified taxpayers may seek a refund every year for all Colorado sales and use taxes they paid on purchases of tangible personal property used directly and predominately in research and development of biotechnology. This includes property such as microscopes, chemical reagents, and software.
Enterprise Zone Program:
Provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to locate and expand in designated economically distressed areas of the state.
Local Government Property Tax Incentives (Business Incentive Agreements):
Local governments can provide property tax credits or incentive payments based on the amount of increased property taxes for qualifying new business activity in their jurisdictions.
Manufacturing Revenue Bonds:
Provides favorable tax-exempt Private Activity Bond financing targeted to small manufacturers in Colorado. It provides for the financing of real estate, machinery and equipment associated with expansion projects specific to manufacturers. Borrowers must meet all eligibility thresholds and federal tax code requirements and often must compete for available volume, which is capped statewide under federal rules.
Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit:
Provides a state income tax credit to businesses undertaking job creation projects that would not occur in Colorado without this program. Businesses have to create at least 20 net new jobs (full-time equivalents) in the state (if located in an Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone must create at least five) during the credit period (60 consecutive months where the business may qualify for an annual tax credit) with an average yearly wage of at least 110% of the county average based on where the business is located. All net new jobs must be maintained for at least one year after the positions are hired to qualify for the minimum amount of tax credits. All net new jobs must be maintained for one year after the credit period to qualify for the maximum tax credits that may be available to a business. The EDC has oversight authority, but a business should work with OEDIT to introduce a project to the EDC. A business may not start the proposed project in Colorado (including locating or expanding in the state, hiring employees related to this project or making material expenditures for this project) until a final application has been submitted and approved. Businesses already receiving an incentive from the EDC’s Strategic Fund or Performance Incentive Fund may not receive an incentive from the Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit Program for the same net new jobs.


Colorado First/Existing Industry Customized Training Programs:
Jointly administered by OEDIT and the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), Colorado First grants are for companies that are relocating to Colorado or existing companies that are undertaking a major expansion. Existing Industry grants are designed for CO companies that are implementing new technology to remain competitive and keep jobs in the state. Approved training is for transferable job skills that support both the company’s economic competitiveness by re-training its workers in new skills, while enhancing the workers’ resumes and long-term employment opportunities.


About The Author

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager. In September 2012, she transitioned to a new role dedicated to developing online content for Business Facilities and Today's Facility Manager. Schwartz can be reached at [email protected]

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