Rifle votes to participate in Rural Jump Start program
An economic effort that’s helped Western Slope communities lure start-up companies is beginning to make headway in Garfield County.
The Rural Jump-Start Program is offered through Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. It aims to help economically distressed communities attract new businesses and jobs by providing various tax credits, exemptions and refunds. So far, governing bodies for New Castle, Silt and Garfield County have offered their official support.
Rifle City Council joined that list March 17 after unanimously passing a resolution that authorized participation in the program. Once the area is designated as a rural jump start zone, new businesses can receive various incentive payments and tax relief.
For Rifle, this includes credits, exemptions and refunds through municipal personal property taxes.
“I would anticipate that this would be fairly minimal revenue,” Rifle’s Main Street Manager Kim Burner said. “It’s just another tool for economic development.”
The tax credits for personal property are essentially in relation to capital and not actual land property. Meanwhile, employees of new businesses receive a tax credit for 100% of state income taxes through the jump start zone.
In order for any prospective business to be eligible for the jump start program, they cannot compete with existing businesses and have to bring a new product unique to the area.
“It has to be a completely new industry,” Burner said.
But city council members questioned whether it was worth forgoing tax revenue to participate in the program.
“It’s something to make towards economic progress, but is it really anything?” Council member Sean Strode said. “I was worried about tax ramifications.”
Burner cited examples of Rio Blanco County attracting new businesses through the use of the jump start program.
On Tuesday, Executive Director for Montrose Economic Development office Sandy Head said the city of Montrose, which launched the jump start program about five years ago, has already seen a number of applications.
“The first four candidates we had were not granted the status because someone over on the (Front Range) didn’t have an exact product but similar,” she said.
But once the state extended the program through House Bill 20-1003, rendered the competition clause to zone-specific only, that “opened the doors,” Head said.
“We did last year secure a company that was totally interested in the rural jump start and they were a start up,” she said. Examples of successful jump start companies include Doordash and Liftoff.
Head echoed Burner’s sentiment, saying the jump start program “is another tool in the economic tool box.”
“I definitely would urge them to move forward and make an application, because it really does help — especially with startups,” she said.
With the approval, Burner said the Rifle Regional Economic Cooperation and Colorado Mountain College will partner up with Rifle to oversee the program, facilitate applications and provide updates to the city.
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