EDC aims to create jobs

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Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation launched a new initiative last week — “Forward Jeffco” — with the goal of creating 7,500 new jobs in the county.

To accomplish that level of economic development, the EDC is attempting to raise $3.9 million in additional revenue from government and business sponsors.

In 2012, Jeffco EDC had an operating budget of about $900,000 and claimed 860 jobs created or retained.

The official kick-off, which comes after months of behind-the-scenes sponsorship discussions, occurred June 11 at the MillerCoors Golden Brewery.

Jeffco EDC board chair Fred Baker started the kick-off presentation, saying that the corporation’s last five-year-plan lacked a lot needed funding.

“What we were able to do this time is take a more intelligent approach,” Baker said.

Forward Jeffco has five listed strategic components:

• More aggressive targeting of companies in desired industries;

• Create new jobs by helping existing businesses grow;

• Stimulate new business, including small and home-based businesses, by pulling together entrepreneur resources;

• Identify and satisfy workforce development needs;

• Aggressively advocate for business at all levels of government.

According to Jeffco EDC CEO Kevin McCasky, part of the additional funds will quickly go to hiring another staff member to travel nationally, and internationally, to market the county to businesses in “identified cluster markets” that he hopes to bring in. Those cluster markets include aerospace/aviation, energy, bioscience, enabling technologies, and consumer products and creative services.

More than $2 million of the Forward Jeffco monetary goal has been reached with contributions from about 25 sources, according to McCasky. Contributors include the City of Lakewood, Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, Xcel Energy, Lockheed Martin, and Jefferson County Public Schools.

Arvada Mayor Marc Williams said he was proud that his city and city council had been among the first to pledge their support for the initiative, providing up to $50,000 a year, for the next five years.

“It’s needed to raise the bar, so that we can attain the primary jobs and the economic development that this county needs and deserves,” Williams said.

The Jeffco EDC has traditionally been funded 50/50 by government and business sources.

Williams said that part of the Jeffco Forward initiative would be to shift that ratio, so that the business community would fund 70 percent, which had been accomplished for the Arvada area.

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