Governor launches economic recovery plan

Gov. John Hickenlooper launched an ambitious economic development plan Wednesday, promising to do everything from creating a business-friendly environment in the state to increasing access to capital.

In a 75-page report called Colorado Blueprint, the governor set a six-part plan to achieve several goals, which include such things as:

Working closely with local governments to create a more uniform tax and fee procedure;

Developing heritage, cultural and agritourism;

Coordinating downtown and main street development;

Aligning education, workforce training and economic development;

Enhancing access to capital and credit for small businesses; and

Improving telecommunications technologies and access across the state.

The plan is the culmination of the bottom-up economic development plan the governor began the day after he took office in January.

“There was a key construct in all of this,” said Duwayne Romero, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “That is: Local communities own their own economic activity, and more importantly they own their own recovery. By recognizing and fully understanding that, the state can do a better job of deploying our limited resources.”

That’s not to say, however, that what local communities wanted to see in Hickenlooper’s statewide plan would actually be part of his focus.

In a series of statewide meetings designed to help develop the plan, residents in the northwest Colorado region, which includes Mesa and Garfield counties, asked that it encourage responsible energy development. People in the region also asked that the state no longer take severance taxes meant for local communities to help it balance its budget.

Neither of those ideas made Hickenlooper’s final cut.

Romero said that’s because such requests are regional goals not necessarily shared by other regions.

“This thing can’t be all things to all people, but it’s attempting to focus on those areas that have the most potential for impact and benefit for the whole of the state,” he said.

Like several others, the region also asked that the state not impose unfunded mandates on local governments. That’s something Hickenlooper already addressed in an executive order, but only when it comes to state agencies in implementing rules and regulations.

The plan calls for improved marketing of the state, including working with specific industries to promote Colorado. That would include everything from tourism promotion to encouraging new businesses to locate here.


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