Thursday, December 29, 2011

Get Precertified NOW to capture Ouray County Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone Tax Credits for 2012

Action Needed by all Ouray County Businesses, including Agriculture and Mining Companies!

All incorporated and unincorporated areas in Ouray County have been designated as an "Enterprise Zone".  Businesses may claim certain types of credits on their Colorado income taxes for activities that occur within an Enterprise Zone. 

The Enterprise Zone program provides business incentives, contribution tax credits (for Colorado income taxes only) and marketing grants to businesses in the Enterprise Zone. 

In addition, the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Ouray County have been designated as an "Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone (EREZ)" which allows for greater financial incentives to businesses that create new jobs in designated economically distressed rural areas. Credits are available for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2003.

The incentive programs are administered on behalf of Ouray County by Region10 which is the designated coordinator.  Region10 staff member Rhona Keckler is the primary Region10 contact for the Enterprise Zone and EREZ programs.  For more information about any of the business incentives, contact Rhona Keckler at 970-249-2436 x 10.  Region10's web site is  It has up to date information about these programs. 
Beginning in 2012, the application procedures and rules for participating in the incentives and tax credit programs available to Ouray County businesses are changing.  New legislation changed the Certification process for activities performed on or after January 1, 2012 that will earn an Enterprise Zone (EZ) Tax Credit.  If your business will perform an activity that will earn an EZ Tax Credit on or after January 1, 2012, Colorado Revised Statute 39-30-103(7)(a) requires that you receive Pre-certification prior to commencing the activity that will earn the credit.  If your business performed all activities that earned an EZ Tax Credit prior to January 1, 2012 only Certification is required. 

Example:  If an Ouray County business plans to create a new position that will be at least 20 hours a week in 2012, in order to qualify for  the available tax credits and other incentive programs, you will need to be pre-certified for the Enterprise Zone program prior to creating the new position.  Filling out the precertification form takes about 5 minutes online.

Most importantly:
  • Applications for tax credits for tax year 2011 and prior years must now be done on line at the State portal (
  • Businesses seeking a tax credit for tax year 2012 must first be pre-certified online before the expenditure or action that qualifies for the tax credit is made.  Then, certification for the tax credit must also be applied for online.   
  • Should a business or tax advisor have any difficulties with on-line submission of pre-certification or certifications, contact Region10 staff right away so that they can assist you.  
If you are conducting business in Ouray County then you might apply for any of the following EZ tax credits in tax year 2012.  Everyone conducting business in Ouray County is encouraged get pre-certified through the Online Pre-certification and certification system RIGHT AWAY!  To get pre-certified, use the Online Pre-certification and certification system at the State Office of Economic Development and International Trade web portal (
Some of the significant incentives that Ouray County businesses may take advantage due to the Enhanced Rural Enterprise Zone include:
·         NEW JOB CREDIT FOR EREZ: $2,500 total state tax credit per each new job over 20 hours/week;
·         NEW AG PROCESSING JOB FOR EREZ: $3,500 total state tax credit per each new agricultural product processing job.

Other incentives available to Ouray County businesses because Ouray County is in the 6-county (Delta, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison and Hinsdale) Enterprise Zone include:
·         3% INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT: 3% of equipment purchases;
·         10% JOB TRAINING TAX CREDIT: 10% of qualified training expenses;
·         25% VACANT BUILDING REHABILITATION TAX CREDIT:  25% of rehab expenditures (hard costs) for buildings 20+ years old and that have been vacant at least 2 years;
·         3% RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT (R&D) TAX CREDIT: 3% of increased R&D expenditures;
·         MANUFACTURING AND MINING SALES AND USE TAX: Purchases of manufacturing machinery, machine tools and machine parts are exempt from the 3 percent state sales and use tax statewide. Form DR1191 (can be completed on your computer and is linked from the Region10 web site.) Note: Application for this tax credit is not included in the new online pre-certification/certification program.
·         HEALTH INSURANCE CREDIT (for employers paying a portion of an employee's health insurance premiums):  Businesses qualifying as a "new business facility" or as an "Expansion Facility" are allowed a $200 tax credit for two years for each employee who becomes insured under a qualifying employer-sponsored health insurance program.

CONTRIBUTION TAX CREDIT PROGRAM -- 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.  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-kind 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 Region10.

SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM -- Region10 also coordinates small business loans available to Ouray County businesses.  The funds used by Region10 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 Region10, 970-249-2436 for a custom-fit loan.

All of these programs are designed to promote economic development of the Region10 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 Region10, as many incentives can be still captured if the qualifying activities are five or less years ago.

Please share this information freely since it is time sensitive for 2012, and since some past activities can still be captured retroactively for tax credits. 

Ouray Commissioner  Lynn Padgett can be reached at 970-258-0836 (cell) or

Thursday, December 22, 2011

LATN Update from Senators Udall & Bennet

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bennet, Udall Urge Air Force to Address Concerns of Southern and Western Colorado in Flyover Plan

Relay Concerns From Local Officials and Residents

Washington, DC – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall are urging the Air Force to address concerns raised by Southern and Western Coloradans following a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of newly proposed low-altitude flights over Colorado.

In a letter to Terry A. Yonkers, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, Bennet and Udall requested a full and more comprehensive analysis before any plan moves forward. The draft EA, which underwent a public comment process earlier this year, states that the proposed plan would not result in significant impacts to local communities or the environment. If the draft EA is made final, a full Environmental Impact Statement would not be required.

“As you continue to analyze the comments received during the recent draft EA public comment period, we strongly encourage you to undertake a full and more comprehensive analysis that addresses these concerns and those submitted by all stakeholders in Colorado,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “Based on comments from a number of counties, private citizens, and other parties, we believe that substantive improvements to the EA must be made before a decision on this proposal is rendered.”

Because some counties affected by this proposal did not learn of the Low-Altitude Tactical Navigation (LATN) plan until after the comment period closed, Bennet and Udall are urging that these comments and others receive full consideration by the USAF and that they are taken into account before any decisions are made about moving forward.

Last year, Udall and Bennet sent a letter to the Air Force's Special Operations Command expressing their concerns about the potential impact that proposed Low-Altitude Tactical Navigation flights could have on civilian and military aviation operations and other interests in Southern Colorado and urging additional coordination to ensure that the training missions don't interfere with other military, medical, or agricultural operations.

Full text of the letter is included below.

Dear Assistant Secretary Yonkers:

Thank you for your continued assistance regarding the 27th Special Operations Wing’s proposed Low-Altitude Tactical Navigation (LATN) area in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.  We wish to express our concern with the current draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and to request that the USAF continue to work to address the concerns of officials and residents in southern and western Colorado.

As you will remember, last year we wrote to Lieutenant General Donald Wurster, Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, expressing our concern over the proposed LATN training area for MC-130 and CV-22 aircraft and ongoing efforts to ensure that USAF planning takes into account civilian comments and military aviation operations in Colorado.  We remain steadfastly committed to our Armed Forces and to ensuring the readiness of our nation’s Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen. Therefore, we also want to ensure that any proposed training area has been carefully coordinated with Army and Air Force commanders in Colorado to protect current and future aviation missions. To this point, leaders from the 27SOW have participated in coordination meetings with the 140th Fighter Wing at Buckley AFB, the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson AFB, and the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, but the outcome of those meetings remains unclear.  The letter also asked USAF to take into account wilderness areas, agriculture operations, ski areas, and the concerns of rural communities.

In August, USAF’s draft EA proposed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), essentially stating that the proposed plan would not result in significant impacts to local communities or the environment.  If the draft EA is made final, a full Environmental Impact Statement would not be required. 

We understand USAF has held at least 16 information sessions in both New Mexico and Colorado to discuss the draft EA and the new proposed training area.  Thank you for proactively engaging the local communities of southwestern Colorado and for organizing an additional session in Aspen.  Unfortunately, some counties affected by this proposal did not hear about the LATN plan until after the comment period closed and have now contacted us with their concerns.  In light of their and other southwest Colorado concerns about the draft EA, we believe USAF must take a number of issues into account before moving forward.

We understand that there are inherent environmental effects associated with any low altitude training area used by our nation’s Special Operations forces.  At the same time, we believe that several issues raised during discussions with officials and constituents have not been sufficiently addressed in the draft EA.

First, rural communities should have an understanding of what specific measures USAF will take to avoid populated areas.  The draft EA merely states that populated areas will be avoided, but gives no definition for populated areas or procedures for how the USAF will do so. It would be helpful if the Air Force would release updated maps that show which populated areas will be avoided.

Second, we are concerned that the draft EA lacks clarity on whether all Special Use Land Management Areas (SULMAs), wilderness areas, and other protected areas will be sufficiently avoided.  Table 3-11 in the draft EA does list several identified SULMAs; however, the EA does not specifically state that each will be avoided by at least 2,000 feet as required by the Department of Defense’s Area Planning Guide for North America (AP-1).

Third, we strongly encourage USAF to work with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve mapping analysis of several wildlife species important to Colorado, including at-risk species and game species so crucial to southwest Colorado.  For example, the draft EA makes no mention of the Gunnison Basin sage-grouse, which is a Federal candidate species under the Endangered Species Act.

Finally, we have heard continued concerns from communities that feel general noise impacts, livestock impacts, and public safety concerns have not been adequately addressed.  Attached please find additional correspondence on these important issues and others.

As you continue to analyze the comments received during the recent draft EA public comment period, we strongly encourage you to undertake a full and more comprehensive analysis that addresses these concerns and those submitted by all stakeholders in Colorado. Based on comments from a number of counties, private citizens, and other parties, we believe that substantive improvements to the EA must be made before a decision on this proposal is rendered.

We thank you for your continued engagement on this issue and for your efforts to train our Special Operations Forces with tough, realistic low altitude training for worldwide deployment.  We look forward to continuing to work with you on this important issue.

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