Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ouray County's Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone Status is Good For All

Ouray County is part of 6-county Enterprise Zone that includes Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Ouray, San Miguel and Hinsdale Counties. Ouray County has also been designated by the State of Colorado as an Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone (EREZ) since 2003. Being designated as an Enterprise Zone allows businesses access to lucrative tax benefits designed to encourage business growth. Being located within an Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone provides even greater financial incentives to businesses of all sizes to promote and encourage new job creation in designated economically lagging rural Enterprise Zone counties. Many of these credits can be back-claimed up to 5 years, but in January 2012 businesses will need to be precertified BEFORE claiming credits. Download the linked brochures for moe info. 

Some significant incentives that Ouray County businesses may take advantage of include:

* New job credit for EREZ: $2,500 total state tax credit per each new job over 20 hours/week;

* New Ag job credit for EREZ: $3,500 total state tax credit per each new agricultural product processing job;

* Investment tax credit: 3% of qualified equipment purchases (can include computers and vehicles);

* Job Training tax credit: 10% of qualified training expenses (can include travel, tuition, meals);

* Vacant Building Rehabilitation tax credit: 25% of rehab expenses (hard costs) for buildings 20+ years old and that have been vacant at least 2 years prior to the rehabilitation;

* Research & Development tax credit: 3% of increased R&D expenditures;

* Manufacturing and Mining Sales and Use tax credit: Expanded State sales and use tax exemption;

* Health insurance credit: for employers paying a portion of employees' health insurance premiums -- $400 for each additional new job

A huge Enterprise Zone benefit to citizens of Ouray County is that additional tax incentives to those who give charitable donations are available if the donations are given to qualified organizations and projects that successfully apply to become an Enterprise Zone Contribution Project.  Examples of groups and project that are already qualified through Region10 and the State of Colorado are Wright Opera House Foundation (Ouray), Museum of the Mountain West (Montrose), (Habitat for Humanity Re-Store) and 17 others in the 6-county Enterprise Zone.  To qualify projects are subject to review and approval by the Economic Development Commission.  Those present at the happy hour thought local museums and even the Ridgway Streetscape Plan could be good fits.  A Colorado taxpayer who contributes to a Enterprise Zone Contribution Project can receive a 25% state tax credit for cash donations and 12.5% state tax credit for in-king contributions, in addition to any federal tax deductions they qualify for.  This encourages greater contributions to these projects and significantly greater tax incentives for those making donations.  The first step for an organization or project to get this designation is to contact the Enterprise Zone Coordinator, Rhona Keckler at Region 10.

Besides business tax incentives and contribution project incentives there also is an Enterprise Zone Marketing Grant program administered by Region 10.  In the past the Ridgway Area Chamber of Commerce has applied and received funds to help pay for advertorials and advertising among other marketing tools.  Grant funds can be used for preparation, production, and distribution of market research, printed materials, advertizing, web promotions, and other items.  The Ouray Resort Chamber Association used these funds to bring in prominent national newspaper travel writers to highlight the area to potential visitors.  The grant program typically accepts grant proposals between November 1 and November 30.  Rhona Keckler of Region 10 is the contact person for those interested.

Region 10 also coordinates small business loans available to Ouray County businesses.  The funds used by Region 10 for the loan program come from both federal and state programs including Colorado Development Block Grants, Small Business Administration Microloan Program, "Revolved" Loans, and participation loans with financial institutions.  Applications and eligibility requirements vary between  funding sources.  Loan interest rates vary between very low to low.  Due to the various options, Ouray County Businesses desiring a loan for working capital, equipment, inventory, real estate, or other supportable expenditures should contact Paul Gray at Region 10, 970-249-2436 for a custom-fit loan. 

All of these programs are designed to promote economic development of the Region 10 Enterprise Zone and Ouray County as an Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone.  If any of these programs sound like something a Ouray County business could have utilized in the past, please still contact Region 10, as many incentives can be still captured if the qualifying activities are five or less years ago.

Region 10 reported that over 4.6 million dollars in tax credits had been realized by businesses just in the 6-county Enterprise Zone during a portion of 2009.  These incentive programs really help our businesses and circulate dollars in our region.

For full information about your specific situation please call Rhona Keckler at 970-249-2436x10 and visit Region 10's EREZ page.  Brochures are linked to this post.

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