House Invests in Rural Economies, Colorado Proud Products

DENVER, CO — The House today passed three bipartisan bills to invest in rural economies and communities and promote Colorado’s agriculture products. These bills are a part of the Colorado Comeback state stimulus, a package of legislation that will invest roughly $800 million into helping Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. The bills passed on Third Reading. 

“By investing in the Colorado proud program, we’re ensuring that Colorado’s economic recovery extends to our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and other agricultural producers,” said Rep Donald Valdez, D- La Jara, sponsor of SB21-203. “This bill provides rural colorado and our agriculture sector with a much-needed boost. Colorado’s agricultural products are made with the highest standards, and the Colorado Proud seal will soon be a symbol of quality across the country and around the globe.” 

Colorado’s robust agricultural sector has been the backbone of our economy for decades, and the pandemic has burdened the industry with unique challenges that require additional resources to overcome. To accelerate the economic recovery of our agricultural and rural communities, SB21-203, which is also sponsored by Representative Rod Pelton, R-Cheyenne Wells, provides $2.5 million to the Department of Agriculture for the Colorado Proud program. Colorado Proud provides new opportunities for Colorado’s food and agricultural producers to increase sales globally and helps support the growth and resiliency of Colorado food systems. The bill passed by a vote of 55-8.

“The REDI program is uniquely poised to provide the shot in the arm that rural Colorado needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley, sponsor of SB21-204. “With the help of the funding provided by this bill, the REDI program will be able to continue its critical work of revitalizing rural economies across the state. It’s time to build rural Colorado back stronger.”

In an effort to help rural communities strengthen their local economies, SB21-204 transfers $5 million to the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Grant Program to be used for projects that create diversity and resiliency in the local economies of rural communities. The bill is also sponsored by Rep.Tanya Van Beber, R-Weld County. Over the past several years, REDI grants have funded improvements to historic buildings, investments in business centers, economic action plans, revitalization of infrastructure, and other economic development initiatives that create and retain jobs and build capacity in rural communities around the state. The bill passed by a vote of 52-11.

“Colorado’s Rural Jump Start program is a proven initiative that supports small businesses and creates jobs in rural, economically distressed areas and communities transitioning away from coal based economies,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, sponsor of SB21-229. “Businesses that open or hire new employees in rural jump-start zones will be eligible for thousands of dollars of financial incentives for each new job they create. By boosting this program with state stimulus funds, we will help rural Colorado recover faster and build back stronger. ”

SB21-229, also sponsored by Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, invests $3 million in the Rural Jump Start Grant Program, which helps economically distressed communities – particularly communities that will be affected by the market transition away from coal to more renewable energy sources – attract new businesses and jobs. Of the grants available, new businesses can receive up to $20,000 for establishing operations in rural jump-start zones and up to $2,500 for each new job they create. While businesses establishing operations in coal transition communities (as identified in the Office of Just Transition Action Plan) can receive up to $40,000 as well as up to $5,000 for each new job they create. The bill passed by a vote of 51-12.