Legislation would extend and improve the Rural Jump-Start Program and cement the Outdoor Recreation Industry Office

DENVER, CO–  The House today passed two bipartisan bills to boost rural economies. HB20-1003, which passed 51-13, would extend and expand the rural Jump-Start program, and HB20-1191, which passed 44-20, would promote the outdoor recreation industry in Colorado.

“The Rural Jump-Start Program helps small businesses open and creates jobs in rural areas across our state, including right in Routt County, and this bill will improve and extend this successful program so that more businesses can participate,” said Rep. Roberts, D-Avon. “We need to make sure that we have an economy that works in all parts of Colorado, and this bipartisan legislation brings us closer to that important goal.”

HB20-1003, sponsored by Representatives Dylan Roberts and Janice Rich, would eliminate provisions that limit eligibility for the Rural Jump-Start Program in order to enable more businesses to take advantage of the incentives and benefits offered in economically distressed areas of rural Colorado. It also extends the program for five years and allows economic development organizations to form Rural Jump-Start Zone programs to authorize new businesses to participate.

The Rural Jump-Start Program incentivizes businesses to create and maintain jobs in rural parts of Colorado by providing tax relief both to the businesses themselves and to their employees. These businesses must be located in designated economically distressed areas of Colorado known as Rural Jump-Start Zones.

“Outdoor recreation creates jobs, fosters businesses and is critically important for economic growth in our state’s rural communities,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango. “Today, we passed bipartisan legislation to promote the outdoor recreation industry and ensure that it continues to grow while we also protect our state’s natural beauty.” 

HB20-1191, sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Matt Soper, calls for the cultivation, promotion, and coordinated development of the outdoor recreation industry in Colorado and for the protection and conservation of public lands, waters, air, and climate. It asks the state to partner with the outdoor recreation industry to ensure that the industry serves as a good steward of Colorado’s natural beauty. The Office would support the outdoor recreation industry in Colorado by working with state, federal, local governments and nongovernmental organizations to promote economic development, conservation, stewardship, education, workforce training, and public health and wellness.

The outdoor industry accounts for 10 percent of Colorado’s economy, with $37 billion in consumer spending supporting more than 511,000 jobs. Since 2015, the outdoor recreation office has worked to attract and retain businesses, offered workforce training programs, fostered product manufacturing and entrepreneurialism, and brought high-tech and advanced industries to the state. The Office created the Rural Technical Assistance Program, which leverages state partnerships to further economic development in rural Colorado. It also sponsored the 2019 Colorado Classic, the only all-women professional bike race in the Western Hemisphere.