(April 17) – The House gave voice-vote approval this afternoon to another core element of the House Democrats’ 2013 jobs and economic development agenda — the implementation of “economic gardening” in Colorado.

HB13-1003, sponsored by Reps. Pete Lee (D-Colorado Springs) and Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo), funds a $200,000 pilot program to provide management and technical training and advice to 20 “second stage” Colorado businesses – those 9- to 99-employee companies that have significant growth potential.

“These are entrepreneurial companies that are prepared to move to the next level,” Rep. Lee said. “They just need some high-level technical assistance.”

Rep. Garcia explained that the economic gardening concept was developed by Chris Gibbons, director of business and industry affairs for the city of Littleton, which has used the program to spur homegrown companies, achieving job growth at more than double the statewide rate.

“The state of Colorado spends millions of dollars every year on incentives to attract large-scale businesses,” Rep. Garcia said. “The state doesn’t do as much for our small businesses. If we give them access to the tools that Fortune 500 companies have, they will grow.”

Earlier today, the House gave final approval to another component of the Democratic eco-devo package, passing a bill to increase funding for the state’s Small Business Development Center system. SBDCs have been proven to be highly effective in helping startup entrepreneurs turn their big ideas into businesses that are thriving – and hiring.

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