By Stephani Burditt
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has updated the list of counties that qualify for Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone (EREZ) status, and Dolores, Montezuma and San Juan counties, as well as eligible areas in Archuleta, make the list beginning in 2021. They join 31 other counties with a higher level of economic hardship and are provided additional incentives to encourage job creation and improve economic conditions.
Every two years, OEDIT is charged by the statutes (C.R.S. 39-30-103.2) to evaluate specific economic distress metrics for rural counties that contain Enterprise Zones (EZ), and to designate such EZs as EREZs if they meet two of the five criteria. Montezuma is new to the list in 2021.
Businesses within designated EZs in EREZ counties can earn an additional $2,000 Colorado income tax credit for each new employee hired on top of the $1,000 EZ Employee Tax Credit; if the business is an agricultural processor, there is an additional $500 credit. The other EZ tax credits, including the Investment Tax Credit, are the same as those for non-EREZ areas.
The evaluation criteria includes:
• County unemployment rate greater than 50 percent above state average.
• County per capita income less than 75 percent of state average.
• County population growth rate less than 25 percent of state average.
• Total nonresidential assessed value ranks in lower half of all counties.
• County population less than 5,000.
For more information on the program, call the Region 9 Economic Development District at 247-9621 or go to https://oedit.colorado.gov/enterprise-zone-program.