January 9, 2012

(Denver) – House Democrats rolled out three more job-creation proposals today, a package focused on nurturing the small businesses and new technologies that are the leading sources of jobs for Coloradans.

“There’s a lot of talk about job creation in this building, but this package is actually going to be creating jobs,” Rep. Mark Ferrandino, the House minority leader, said at a Capitol press conference today. “It is not just words when Democrats say we have a laser-like focus on job creation in Colorado.”

Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley) and Rep. Ferrandino (D-Denver) are co-prime sponsors of a bill to help identify promising new technologies at our universities and research centers, and move those technologies out of the lab and into the market. Grants of up to $750,000 would be administered by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“The development of new products and services from technology research discoveries will create more jobs in Colorado,” Rep. Young said.

Dave Allen, associate vice president for tech transfer at the University of Colorado, and Todd Headley, who oversees tech transfer operations at Colorado State University, spoke in support of the Young-Ferrandino bill.

“We very much believe in economic development and job creation, and this bill would be an outstanding contribution to that,” Headley said.

Rep. Max Tyler is sponsoring a bill to increase funding for Colorado’s small business development centers, the state’s biggest job-creation success story. With a general fund appropriation of less than $85,000, SBDCs served more than 5,000 businesses and created 1,400 jobs in 2010. According to a recent Denver Post analysis, SBDCs are producing one job for every $9,000 invested.

Rep. Tyler (D-Lakewood) said the bill would provide an additional $300,000 for the next two years, drawing down federal matching funds.

“SBDCs help local, home-grown Colorado businesses succeed,” Rep. Tyler said. “These are the businesses that build a strong foundation for Colorado’s economy and Colorado’s future. Supplying these businesses with the resources they need to grow and hire more Coloradans is the entire goal of this bill.”

Richard Lewis was on hand to testify to the benefits of SBDC help in the launch and growth of RTL Networks, his Denver-based IT services company. In 10 years of operation, RTL has
made it onto Inc. Magazine’s 2010 list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States.

SBDCs “have a number of very useful programs and classes in everything from accounting to marketing to business planning,” Lewis said. “Many of my employees are still going to small business development centers for ongoing support.”

Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) is sponsoring a bill providing funding for the “Angel Investor” legislation he authored in 2009. The program authorized up to $20,000 in state tax credits to investors who provide seed money to Colorado’s start-up companies.

“This is a proven economic development tool, and what we’re talking about is trying to provide a funding mechanism,” Rep. Kefalas said.

Su Hawk, president of the Colorado Technology Association, spoke in support of Rep. Kefalas’s bill. “Access to capital is anemic in Colorado,” Hawk said. “This innovation tax credit would help.”

Rep. Ferrandino said funding for all three bills could come from reallocating tax credits currently being awarded in the state’s enterprise zones. The Post’s analysis showed that it cost the taxpayers more than $130,000 for each enterprise-zone job.

“We have other tax incentives and other things to help create businesses and grow good jobs that are much less expensive,” Rep. Ferrandino said. “We’re not getting rid of money that’s going toward economic development. What we’re doing is repurposing it to get the best return on our investment.”

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