Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ritter Pushes Economic Development Ideas for 2009

Gov. Bill Ritter announced his economic development priorities for 2009 today, making a push for expanded access to credit and continued emphasis on renewable energy infrastructure.

Ritter's specific suggestions include:

(1) provision of tax-credit incentives for companies that create at least 20 new jobs;

(2) making available to hundreds, possibly thousands, of small and family-owned businesses immediate access to capital and credit through a Colorado Credit Reserve Program;

(3) expansion of the Colorado First workforce training programs at community colleges, especially those related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation; and

(4) investment in "New Energy Economy" companies, projects and jobs through the Colorado Clean Energy Fund.

“Over the past two years, we’ve made smart, strategic and aggressive investments to help protect Colorado residents and retain Colorado jobs and businesses,” Ritter said. “Our 2008 business-development legislative package eased the tax burden for tens of thousands of companies, we created a Colorado Jobs Cabinet, and the proposals we are announcing today will build on the progress we have made and create new opportunities."

The first proposal would require companies seeking to take advantage of the program to apply to the Economic Development Commission and meet specific criteria. The company will be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50 percent of its annual FICA taxes on new employees. The tax credit for new employees would be calculated on a year-to-year basis for five years according to the number of FTEs on the company’s payroll at year’s end.

The Colorado Credit Reserve is a pool guaranty program originally established and administered by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. Ritter wants to restore the program and expand it to generate small business loans throughout the state by encouraging lenders to extend credit in amounts up to $500,000. Ritter says that the state could generate at least $50 million in new loans by committing $2.5 million to this program.

Under the "New Energy Jobs Program" Ritter is suggesting that the General Assembly increase funding by $1 million per year to the community college program. The new funds would be used to create job training programs for renewable energy- and energy conservation-related jobs and will allow community colleges to apply for cluster-based grants.

The plan also includes increased funding for the state's Clean Energy Fund. The increase would be $1.4 million, with priority for the money allotted to economic development incentives for clean energy companies.

Ritter's announcement said that his proposals are supported by the Economic Development Council of Colorado, Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry,
Colorado Concern, the Colorado chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Northern Colorado Economic Development Council, South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, Adams County Economic Development, Colorado Springs Economic Development Council, Colorado Housing and Financing Authority, Colorado Bankers Association and Independent Bankers of Colorado.