Originally Published in the Daily Sentinel June 27, 2022
Written by GJEP Deputy Director Steve Jozefczyk

Tomorrow morning, I will give a presentation to request, and hopefully secure, incentive funding for a confidential business prospect. The hope is to create up to twenty new, high-paying jobs for our community. When I say, “high-paying”, I mean salaries that at or above the Mesa County average annual wage. Currently that threshold is set at about $51k. The overall economic impact to our community is over $2 million with the direct and indirect spending of these new salaries. Not only will these jobs provide warm meals for the families in these households, but they will also provide amazing opportunities for students graduating from CMU. 

This sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Yes, and when it comes to incentives, sometimes this work can be complicated. Why does one new or expanding business gain the advantages (whether they are in the form of tax credits, or cash grant dollars) when another has to make it without this assistance? That is a very good question and a challenge I navigate in this work on a regular basis. 

The more lucrative incentives come from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). Most of these incentives were created for businesses locating within the competitive Denver Metro area. This means that the requirements are a difficult target to hit if you are located outside of the I-25 corridor. OEDIT has made great strides in creating exceptions for areas throughout the state labeled as “severely distressed.” These exceptions give those areas lower thresholds for job creation, or a reduction in the average wage requirement. These “severely distressed” regions can use all the help they can get, so I am in full support of this. The challenge in the Grand Valley is that we are in an awkward in-between stage where we are still considered “distressed,” without the “severe” designation. Therefore with most incentives our businesses must hit the same requirements as those locating in downtown Denver. This is the reason most local businesses do not qualify for the more lucrative incentives.  

The primary role of GJEP is to create primary (high-paying) jobs within Mesa County. We do this by recruiting new businesses into the community and by working with our local economic development partners to help existing businesses expand. We live in a highly desirable location that provides businesses what they need to thrive as well as exceptional access to infrastructure and natural resources that elevate our quality of life. These are wonderful assets that make the Grand Valley a desirable location for business. However, without our incentives I can confidently say that we would not have successfully recruited or retained over a dozen businesses and 100+ jobs in the last several years.  

Incentives are effective and necessary in the act of business recruitment and job creation. The part I do not like is that incentives can often seem unfair to existing businesses that are in competition with the awardees. In a perfect world, all new or expanding businesses would be unique in the products they make, or the services they offer. The reality is that the spectrum of diversity in our business industries is more vast than ever, largely due to the hard work of our economic development partners. The probability of businesses being in competition with one another is increasing steadily. This diversity and competition creates an ecosystem for all to succeed as well as an environment that attracts and retains a talented workforce. 

Economic development is all about helping our businesses thrive, new and existing. GJEP is here to help our region navigate the incentives and advocate on your behalf whether you are a new business relocating to the Grand Valley or an existing business looking for support to expand. There are tax credits available for job creation, capital investment in your facility, and job training. If you are interested in learning more please reach out to us! You have us in your corner.