Business & Economy

Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Everyone, no matter individual or business, wants to feel that they are not paying full price. That is why many of us use coupons or shop when something we want is on sale. In that respect, businesses are no different and incentives can be a tie breaker when choosing where to locate between two similar communities.

Archuleta County based businesses have several incentives for both relocating and existing businesses. Below is a quick summary of those resources.

Rural Jumpstart 

Rural Jumpstart is a state program that incentivizes relocating and start-up companies offering a non-duplicative business product or service. Archuleta and the Town of Pagosa Springs are eligible and are participating. Businesses must be approved by the Economic Development Commission and create at least five new jobs that pay above the median income within a certain timeframe. 

The program offers the following benefits for relocating and nonduplicative new businesses:

• Relief from state income taxes for the new business

• Relief from the state sales and use tax for the business

• Relief from county and municipal personal property taxes for the business

• Relief from state income taxes for the employee

Enterprise Zone State Tax Credits

The Colorado Enterprise Zone (EZ) program is a program that encourages job creation and capital investment in targeted economic areas like the majority of Archuleta County. 

The program provides a variety of tax credits to businesses and nonprofit projects to promote and encourage economic development activities. There are 10 different credits including equipment purchases and new employee hires. 

Opportunity Zone

There is an Opportunity Zone census tract in Archuleta County. These zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation throughout the country by providing tax benefits to investors who invest eligible capital into these communities. Taxpayers may defer tax on eligible capital gains by making an appropriate investment in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and meeting other requirements. 

Advanced Industry Tax Credit

Provides assistance to Colorado companies operating in seven advanced industries the opportunity to receive capital from investors.

Commercial Historic Preservation Tax Credit

Jointly administered with History Colorado for owners of designated commercial properties who do a certified rehabilitation of their property. 

Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit

A performance-based program for businesses pursuing job creation projects that are competing with at least one other state and where the incentive is a major factor in the decision. 

State Trade Expansion Program

Financial assistance for aspiring and current Colorado exporters entering into a new international market. This program supports small and medium-sized businesses through grant funds to offset international business development and marketing costs. 

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade has information on additional incentives to businesses that can be further explored at choosecolorado.com.

Business Support Programs

Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE): SCAPE creates more high growth and job creating companies in Southwest Colorado by providing education, mentoring and access to funding for startups and early stage companies. www.goscape.org

Southwest Small Business Development Center provides free business counseling, technical assistance, trainings, business plan development www.sbdcfortlewis.org/

Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC): Prepares businesses for federal and state contracts. www.coloradoptac.org/

Manufacturer’s Edge: Statewide manufacturing assistance center through onsite technical assistance through coaching, training and consulting. www.manufacturersedge.com/

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Before you build, expand or open your business

By Mary Jo Coulehan

Before you build, renovate or open your doors for business, there is one step that many people forget — and it is one that could save you time, money, surprises and headaches. That step is checking with the Town of Pagosa Springs or Archuleta County building and planning departments regarding doing business in our community. 

Depending on where your business is located, each entity may have different requirements and zoning laws.

Zoning and land use

Of course, most entrepreneurs know that you need a building permit before you break ground or remodel any portion of an existing commercial building. 

But are you breaking ground in the right zone? 

Both the town and county have land use permitting and zoning. It is important to check to make sure that your business fits within the zoning and building code guidelines. Even though a zone may permit light manufacturing, you will need to make sure that your manufacturing operation fits within those guidelines. You may need to ask for a variance. 

Even if you bought an existing building, contact the building department to make sure your business is compatible within the zone. This includes converting a house from long-term to short-term rental, adding accessory structures to a nonresidential location (including portable shipping containers), paving or changing access and parking lots, and doing any work in a floodplain. Some properties may be “grandfathered;” however, the improvement must meet current codes when expanded or changed or if vacant for more than six months.

Permitting and licensing

It is not necessary to obtain a business license within the parameters of Archuleta County; however, if doing business within the Town of Pagosa Springs, you must have an annual business license. Even if your business is physically located in the county, but you perform a business function within the town (delivery of products, repairs, sales), you still need a town business license. 

Business licenses are also required within the town for temporary seasonal businesses like food trucks and vendors or special event permits and building contractor work permits. 

Each planning department also has guidelines for building fees. While impact fees have been waived, other fees may apply such as water tap fees, plan submission, etc. 

For those looking at larger developments, especially in the Opportunity Zone districts, the town and county can assist with incentive packages and plan development. 

In both the town and the county, sign permitting is required for temporary, modified or permanent signage. Before you spend the money on making a sign, visiting with the planning departments will alert you to size restrictions or perhaps colors if you are doing business in the historic district. 

Any new construction will need to have plans submitted to either building department. Each entity will provide a building and fire safety inspection before issuing a certificate of occupancy.

Both the town and the county have rules regarding short-term rentals (under 30 days). Each has a different fee schedule and all short-term rentals need to be licensed and collect sales and lodger’s tax. 

Before you build or set up your property for short-term rental, check the guidelines for where you are located, as short term rentals are not a “use by right” and typically also require a conditional use permit. 

New regulations are being considered in 2021 which may restrict your ability to operate a short term rental license. 

Many of the licensing forms can be found on the town’s website at pagosasprings.co.gov or on the county’s site at archuletacounty.org.

The town’s building and planning departments are located at Town Hall at 551 Hot Springs Blvd. and the county building and planning offices are located at 1122 U.S. 84. These entities are here to help you through the building process and minimize duplication of efforts. 

Find out the guidelines before you put a shovel in the ground for your new project or pull a hammer out to remodel your existing building. A quick phone call can save you needless time, energy and expense.

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By Mary Jo Coulehan

The Chamber of Commerce is a member-based organization that promotes and supports the local community through various educational programs, a resource and referral system, business advocacy, economic gardening and special event promotions. With almost 400 members, it is known for consistently having one of the highest per capita memberships in the state — an honorable achievement for a small mountain community.

Networking events such as Business After Hours and targeted trainings are a great way to stay current with area activities and to hone and expand your business savvy. 

The Chamber offers confidential consulting services, connections to other important business service centers and numerous ways to help you grow your business.

We also stay involved in other community initiatives including broadband, housing and early childcare which are the priorities identified by the business community. 

In 2020 our business community saw how important their chamber was by receiving the latest information on financial assistance, help with unemployment issues, working to man an emergency call center, and partnering with the town, county and nonprofit organizations to assist residents and businesses in Archuleta County. 

The Chamber of Commerce, along with the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation, the Small Business Development Center and the Region 9 Economic Development District are poised to help you take your business to the next level. The Chamber is the administrative arm of the Community Development Corporation and works hand in hand in building a stronger community. 

Being a Chamber member is being in support of the business community and offering a collective voice.

Contact the Chamber of Commerce at pagosachamber.com or by calling (970) 264-2360 for more information.

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Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation

By Mary Jo Coulehan

The Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (CDC) coordinates economic development initiatives that aim to enhance the economy in Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. Supported by county and town governments, utility groups, local banks and individual businesses, the CDC strives to help Pagosa grow, diversify and become more economically stable. Pagosa is proud to be home to several Colorado top Companies to Watch. Our community alternative-energy portfolio includes biochar, solar and geothermal companies. With the current focus on alternative energy nationally, the CDC encourages individuals and companies interested in energy entrepreneurship to look no further than Pagosa Springs.

Better than a highway running through town, Pagosa Springs has the San Juan River flowing through town. With the Weminuche Wilderness and southern San Juan Wilderness in Pagosa Springs’ backyard, outdoor accessory and equipment entrepreneurs are finding that Pagosa offers an ideal research, development and testing lab for their products.

Technology has changed the way we do business and companies that need broadband Internet services for large data transmission or jobs that offer telecommuting opportunities have several options that would meet their needs. The CDC oversees the Broadband Services Office and is a partner in multiple broadband improvement projects. Remote work in Pagosa Springs is a great way to live the life of working where you play. We can help you connect to Colorado companies that focus on remote workers in rural areas. 

The CDC provides a wealth of resources including one-stop shopping for business information and a rapid-response team tailored to your needs to assist companies interested in opening or relocating a business to Archuleta County. The CDC website has statistical information and interactive data tools to assist you. 

The CDC maintains close ties to the Pagosa Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Southwest Small Business Development Center in Durango and Region 9 Economic Development District. These relationships help provide businesses a leg up on coming into the community through consultation services, educational opportunities, data and financial assistance. The CDC can help interested parties develop a business compatible with the area, locate available space, help smooth the business transition and create a win-win situation for new businesses and the community. The CDC can assist interested parties in community, state or federal tax advantages such as the state’s Enterprise Zone program or the federal Opportunity Zone program or the Rural Jump Start program. Our office or website has a community prospectus for those interested in relocating or finding out more about Pagosa’s Opportunity Zone districts. We can assist interested parties in identifying parcels of land located in these specialized zones while working to get you individual or “stacked” tax credits to maximize your advantage.

Contact the CDC at (970) 264-2360 or pagosaspringscdc.org for information about moving or expanding your business.

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License, permits, zoning information and more

The Town of Pagosa Springs requires an annual business license for all businesses located and/or conducting business within the town’s boundary. This includes special events, vendors, food trucks, seasonal/temporary vendors, vacation rentals, retail sales, bars/lounges, restaurants, professional services, construction general contractors and subcontractors, home-based businesses, nonprofit entities, etc. Additional license and/or permits may also be required for certain types of businesses. 

It is recommended that you contact the town planning and building department at the beginning of your planning process and prior to determining a location for your business. There may be zoning restrictions and building code requirements for particular businesses that you should know about before you get too far along in your planning process, and certainly before you lease or purchase a property. This will help eliminate surprises and very costly oversights along the way. It is also recommended that you contact the building department if you are contemplating any new construction or remodeling work. There may not be any permit needed, however, a quick call will help eliminate delays and/or unknown expenses. In addition, a sign permit is required for all permanent and temporary signs (banners). Again, you should contact the planning department prior to designing or manufacturing a sign to ensure you meet the town’s code requirements and prevent any costly mistakes.

Town staff is available to help guide you through the process of opening or relocating a business in Pagosa Springs. Applications are available on the town’s website, www.pagosasprings.co.gov, or at Town Hall. Contact town government at: 551 Hot Springs Blvd., P.O. Box 1859, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, (970) 264-4151.

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Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado

By Laura Lewis Marchino, Executive Director
Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado

As our communities recover from the COVID pandemic, it is a good reminder to look at our amazing regional assets and diversity so critical to recovery. 

Southwest Colorado has everything that you as a resident or business would want within an hour’s drive of any community. However, many of you have overheard the, “We don’t have an airport.” or “The college is in Durango”. Though technically true, those statements are also creating a “negative narrative” and reinforces the focus on community boundaries. Those simple statements are something that can impact business relocation. For example, all the Front Range communities use the Denver International Airport, but you do not hear residents of Ft. Collins saying, “Oh we don’t have an airport” because they consider DIA their airport. When you stop and think about it, DIA serves a huge geographic area from Ft. Collins (70 miles away) to Fairplay and even Silverthorne.

Rural areas traditionally typically think within their community boundaries rather than what is available regionally. We all want medical care, education, culture and transportation. In rural areas, those items may not be sustainable on a community level but can be on a regional one. Regionalism makes the pie bigger, not just in terms of services, but in creating economies of scale and reducing duplication. Businesses that think regionally are more likely to grow as they understand they need a larger population and customer base. Simply by reframing our unintentional negative narrative to, “Within an hour’s drive we have an airport, a 4-year college, three hospitals, a community college, several National Parks and unlimited recreation opportunities,” we become the region that has it all. 

Working through a regional lens also solves the following business concerns:

• Shortage of business-to-business services. 

• Limited access to information/knowledge centers — one community may lack the services that another has. 

• Dominance by single business or industry — a large employer in one community is one of many when looking regional. 

• Local labor skills and availability — you yourself may live in one community but work in another.

Rural communities are a destination to visit and more and more, to move to. Southwest Colorado has the assets to compete.

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