Two tech-based companies will soon open satellite offices in Grand Junction thanks to the state's Rural Jump-Start program.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission last week approved Visual Globe and Dude Solutions for the state tax credit program. In the three years of the program, 13 of 14 Rural Jump-Start program recipients have opened offices in the Grand Junction area.

"We're the only ones using it, but it's working the way it should," Grand Junction Economic Partnership Executive Director Robin Brown said.

Jump-Start companies can receive up to an eight-year break on sales and use taxes and county and municipal property taxes. Employees can also avoid state income taxes over that span. The program is run through the state's Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Businesses must add at least five new jobs to the county in high-paying and highly skilled fields. Visual Globe and Dude Solutions plan to add 16 and 15 jobs, respectively, in the next few years.

Visual Globe is a Denver-based software company that produces three-dimensional computer-designed models of an organization's assets. CEO and founder Mike Blakeman said he researched the area for about six months before applying for the Rural Jump-Start program. He said he plans to start to hire immediately for the Grand Junction office. He said he chose the area because it has Colorado Mesa University as a resource for talent and noticed the push to grow the tech industry in the area.

"It was a good fit for me," Blakeman said.

Dude Solutions is based in North Carolina and is a software-as-a-service provider of management solutions to education, government, health care, senior living, manufacturing and membership-based organizations. They also have offices in Washington and Canada.

Both companies are still searching for office space in the Grand Junction area.

Since the start of the Rural Jump-Start program, tech-based companies have been an ideal fit, as companies must not have any competitors in the state. GJEP has also prioritized recruiting technology companies to the Grand Valley.

"If you look at our largest growing industry, the highest is outdoor industry manufacturing," Brown said. "Right behind that is tech."

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