Last summer, Colorado set out to ensure the entirety of the state can benefit from economic development — not just the metro areas. A fortuitous move if there was one, given the events to take place around the globe in 2020.
The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has launched a new program that targets location-neutral jobs and rewards the placement of those jobs in locations outside of Colorado’s traditional urban corridors. By linking these flexible location jobs with rural communities that seek economic partners, the state is working to leverage rural Colorado’s exceptional quality of life in the talent attraction process.
In February, Pax8, a cloud distribution technology company based in Greenwood Village, chose its home state for its latest expansion project. Colorado was competing with Atlanta, Ga., and San Antonio, Texas, for the project.
The company has been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in Colorado and expects to create up to 1,852 jobs over the next eight years. The projected average annual wage of the jobs to be created by this expansion is $106,112 which is equivalent to 145% of the average annual wage in Denver County.
In addition to being awarded the Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit, the company received the first Location Neutral incentive funded through the Strategic Fund. Both the JGITC and Strategic Fund are performance based.
“Colorado has been synonymous with the start-up and entrepreneurial ecosystem for decades and it’s great to see the convergence of start-ups and scale-ups simultaneously experience success. It’s equally rewarding to have a local company thoughtfully distribute their workforce in urban and rural areas, as the first LONE program recipient for location neutral jobs,” said Global Business Development Director Michelle Hadwiger.
Even the state is putting its money where its mouth is — so to speak — with its first location neutral employees. OEDIT announced in Nov. 2019, it hired the state’s first three location neutral employees to help expand rural prosperity.
“We’ve made progress on lowering the cost of health care in rural communities, working with our agriculture industry and increasing rural economic development but there’s more we can do,” said Governor Jared Polis. “The state should be meeting rural Coloradans where they are and help folks get ahead. That’s why our administration is committed to expanding opportunity for our rural communities while ensuring they are prepared for the future. This move will help get us closer to that goal.”
The Rural Opportunity Representatives will represent OEDIT and be responsible for overseeing and executing multiple projects to advance Colorado’s rural communities. This work includes managing the Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP), coordinating rural strategy for their respective regions, working with other OEDIT offices including the Small Business Development Center, Minority Business Office and the Employee Ownership Network and representing OEDIT on Manufacturer’s Edge.
Homegrown in Durango
In early 2019, a homegrown software development company from rural Durango was acquired by a leading technology company. PluralSight Inc., based in Farmington, Utah, purchased the company for $170 million in May 2019.
GitPrime was started inside a Durango co-working space in 2015. Over the last few years, Colorado has invested in and supported the company through multiple funding awards, including the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program, Advanced Industry Investment Tax Credit, and an Advanced Industry Accelerator Program grant. Those investments have paid off in Durango where the company has expanded its footprint and workforce and revitalized the community.
“I’m extremely proud of what the GitPrime team has accomplished to date for engineering teams and leaders,” said Travis Kimmel, co-founder and CEO of GitPrime. “With Pluralsight’s powerful platform, global reach and presence in the world’s largest companies, we are thrilled to join forces and further enhance the way companies build and create software using today’s most valuable skills.”
When companies get their start in Colorado, there’s no telling how far they’ll go.
Savannah King is managing editor of custom content for Conway Inc. She is an award-winning journalist and previously wrote for The Times in Gainesville, Ga. She graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and lives near Atlanta.