The City of Delta has followed the lead of Delta County and is now a participant in the Rural Jump Start program.
The program was established by the Colorado State Legislature for the express purpose of encouraging economic development in the rural areas of Colorado.
By agreeing to participate in the program, Delta County will refund 100 percent of business personal property tax and 100 percent of county sales and use tax for approved businesses. The City of Delta agrees to refund 100 percent of the municipal sales and use tax that would be imposed on the new business. Relief is limited by statute to eight years.
The Colorado Economic Development Commission is responsible for designating eligible businesses.
A participating business must be new to the state, hire at least five employees, export goods and services outside a "distressed" county, and not directly compete with the core function of a business that is already operating in the state.
Although the qualifications seem rather narrow, Mesa County has seven participating businesses representing just over 200 jobs. Montrose, Logan, Las Animas and Pueblo counties have also joined the program.
"Since both Mesa and Montrose counties are Jump Start zones, it only makes sense for Delta County," Thibodo said. "There are definitely opportunities out there, and over time I believe it could be a strong recruitment tool."
Trish Thibodo, executive director of Delta County Economic Development, points out that existing businesses would also qualify if they created new divisions offering something unique.
The legislation defines a distressed county as a county with a population less than 250,000 reflecting certain indicators of economic distress, such as lower per capita income than the statewide average, unemployment levels higher than the statewide average, a declining workforce, or higher concentration of students eligible for free lunch than the statewide average.
A new business that establishes a relationship with a higher education institution in the Jump Start zone will receive additional state tax benefits. Delta County is eligible to work with Colorado Mesa University, Delta-Montrose Technical College and Western Colorado Community College.
State income tax for both the business and the employees is waived. Employees must be making at least the county median wage, and must work for the new business for six months to receive benefits.
During discussion of the Rural Jump Start program, it was noted the towns of Hotchkiss, Orchard City, Paonia and Cedaredge are also looking at participating in the program.
"My goal, is wherever in Delta County people want to go, there will be a Jump Start zone," Thibodo said.
The program will not affect real property tax collections.
Two accidents involving school property are proving costly for Delta County Joint School District, district business manager Jim Ventrello reported last week. Both incidents involved uninsured drivers, forcing the school district to file claims with its insurance provider and pay deductibles of $10,000.