DENVER, CO – A pair of laws aimed at supporting rural Colorado will go into effect on Monday, August 7.
SB23-006, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, and Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, will foster economic development in rural communities by formally creating the Rural Opportunity Office (ROO) within the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Also sponsored by Senator Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction, and Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, SB23-006 will enable the ROO to serve as the central coordinator of rural economic development for the state, supporting communities transitioning away from coal-based economies, supporting programs and initiatives, and making recommendations to help inform economic development policy impacting rural communities.
“Rural communities like those I represent are crucial to Colorado’s economy and character. To ensure we’re building a Colorado where everyone can thrive, we must be proactive in our work to support rural economic development,” Roberts, sponsor of SB23-006 and SB23-050 said. “By creating a ‘one-stop shop’ for our small towns in the Rural Opportunity Office and expanding eligibility for the Agricultural Future Loan Program, we’re giving rural Colorado and those who power our agriculture industry a leg up while providing the support and expertise to meet our rural economies’ unique needs.”
“I am proud of our efforts to support local businesses and communities by creating good paying jobs Coloradans can count on,” said McLachlan, sponsor of SB23-006. “The continuation of the Rural Opportunity Office expands economic opportunities for Coloradans living in all four corners of the state. This is an important bipartisan step forward to uplift our rural economies, secure new investments in our communities and create good paying jobs across the state.”
The Rural Opportunity Office began its work to boost rural economies through supportive development strategies in 2019. In the years since, the ROO has expanded services to assist Colorado’s Tribal Nations in their economic development through grant writing support, education campaigns, and technical assistance.
SB23-050, sponsored by Roberts and Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, provides key resources to farmers and ranchers to help grow their farms and ranches by expanding eligibility for the Colorado Agricultural Future Loan Program.
“Colorado’s farmers and ranchers play a critical role in our economy, but sometimes entering into the field can be financially challenging,” said McCormick, sponsor of SB23-050. “The Agricultural Future Loan Program has helped ease financial burdens for those entering or expanding their farm or agricultural business in Colorado. We’re committed to making farming more accessible and diverse by expanding the number of Coloradans who can access these critical loans.”
Initially created in 2021 by the legislature, the Agricultural Future Loan Program provides loans and grants to newer or underrepresented producers. The bipartisan SB23-050, which is also sponsored by Senator Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, and Rep. Richard Holtorf, R-Akron, makes the program permanent and expands eligible recipients to include new businesses not yet operating and also businesses developing or manufacturing technology designed to benefit Colorado farmers and ranchers.