State eco-devo plan addresses rural issues

The updated statewide economic development plan released in late October contains a number of initiatives to strengthen small towns and rural areas.

“The Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development” is the result of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s outreach that began even before his inauguration in January. He asked citizens and officials in all 64 counties — grouped into 14 regions — to submit their best ideas to improve their local economy and what the state government could do to help implement those ideas.

Larimer and Weld counties — the NoCo Region — developed a set of six goals, which included enhanced water storage and regional transportation as well as reduced government red tape and more primary jobs.

“Colorado is already seeing the benefits of taking a bottom-up, collaborative approach to economic development,” Hickenlooper said in releasing the latest plan. “We know that through a comprehensive and collaborative approach our state will reap the benefits of new jobs and a strong recovery.”

The Colorado Blueprint focuses on six core objectives:

· Build a business-friendly environment
· Retain, grow and recruit companies
· Increase access to capital
· Create and market a stronger Colorado brand
· Educate and train the workforce of the future
· Cultivate innovation and technology

Agriculture is one of the industry clusters targeted for support, to help retain businesses, especially small businesses. Downtown and main street development activities will also receive support and coordination at the state level under the plan.

Heritage and agritourism form a major sub-initiative under the creation of a stronger marketing brand for Colorado, and improved access to telecommunications technologies is at the top of the innovation and technology list.

The latest version of the Colorado Blueprint calls for a comprehensive industry cluster strategy to be in place in the next three months.

The complete plan is available at www.colorado.gov/coloradoblueprint.

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