Adams County higher ups presented the State of the Region on May 18, with politicians and business executives championing the county’s work over the past year.
Speakers included Lynn Baca, …
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Adams County leaders presented the State of the Region on May 18, with politicians and business executives championing the county’s work over the past year.
Speakers included Lynn Baca, chair of Adams County board of commissioners, and Gov. Jared Polis. They were followed by a panel featuring Same Bailey, manager of economic development for Amazon, Doug Campbell, co-founder and CEO of Solid Power, and Steve VanNurden, president and CEO of Fitzsimons Innovation Community.
Baca highlighted large projects taking place such as PepsiCo relocating its regional offices and distribution center to Adams County, Amazon developing six new sites across the county, the Rocky Mountain Rail Park bringing 7,000 acres of private industrial and commercial development to the area and Dawn Aerospace and Colorado Air and Space Port entering into a memorandum of understanding to establish U.S. operations in Adams County.
She also said two solar farms were developed over the last year, and the county will aid in resident access to renewable energy with help from Solar United Neighbors and their solar co-op.
Federal dollars also came to the county from the American Rescue Plan Act, providing $35 million to local organizations, nonprofits, school districts and small businesses.
“These dollars will have a tremendous impact on your community as (we) move from recovery to resiliency,” Baca said.
In addition, $22 million in emergency rental assistance funds helped keep families in stable housing.
“For the unstable economy and with inflation, it's important to continue creating quality jobs,” she said.
50 ways to save money
On the state level, Polis said Colorado is on a strong economic recovery, ranking fifth compared to the other 49 states in the country.
“More people are employed today than pre-pandemic or ever before,” he said.
Polis also applauded what he and the State Legislature has done to save Coloradoans money, to the tune of Paul Simon’s "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover."
“Just cut the tax, Max. Lowered the rate, Nate. You don’t need to pay more, Thor. Just send your kids for free to preschool and kindergarten,” he sang.
He also reminded listeners that Coloradoans will be getting a rebate of at least $500 this year.
“That's about $75 million right back to Adams County residents and about $86 million right back to Adams County residents for couples,” he said.
The governor also touted a $700 million statewide property tax relief package that will decrease property tax bills by $300 for a house in Adams County.
“(I) appreciate that there's a strong real estate market," Polis said. "(For) homeowners, their assets are going up, but that's tough, when that property tax goes up and your income doesn't keep up."
He explained that residential property taxes in Colorado are much lower than commercial property taxes, so small businesses and other commercial property will see greater relief.
A commercial property in Commerce City or Thornton worth $500,000 will see its annual tax bill reduced by $1,900, Polis said.
Families with preschoolers will also see an estimated $4,700 in their pockets after the legislature passed universal preschool this past session.
“We want to have this county be family friendly. We want it to be affordable for families," Polis said.
A culture of doing
How to attract and retain employees was the first topic addressed by the panel, and Campbell emphasized the importance of a healthy work culture to attract young people.
“This is really important for a lot of young folks out there,” he said.
For Campbell, his company’s mission is to transition to a clean energy and clean transportation economy.
He said Colorado is an attractive place to be due to the state's landscape and quality of life.
VanNurden talked about the importance of diversity in the medical field, which translates into any other field. He spoke of not only diverse backgrounds and experiences but also diverse skill sets and knowledge, such as medical professionals learning from business professionals and vice versa.
He said Adams County is on the map for industry and commercial endeavors.
“We used to be a flyover state,” he said. “Over the last six years now, we've had 600 companies come to (Fitzsimons Innovation Community) to see what's going on in the innovation associated with that.”
To continue to attract talent to the state, VanNurden said families think about whether it is safe to move to a new place and where their kids will go to school, and he urged local elected officials to focus on these things.
An advantage Colorado has, Campbell and VanNurden said, is the amount of research institutions in the state and the amount of research being done.
“There's just a phenomenal amount of research going on here that is relevant to commercial industry,” Campbell said.
Most of all, Colorado possesses a "to-do" culture.
“(Colorado’s) culture of doing the hard work and not overhyping things, and to me, that's what makes us very, very unique,” Bailey said. “From a cultural standpoint, we’re wired to avoid the hype, put your head down and get the job done.”
In offering advice to elected officials, panel members recommended local government bodies approve proposals and other business related items quickly.
“Speed is really important and the ability to get things approved much quicker, as quickly as we can, and still do it the right way,” VanNurden said. “It really is our competitive advantage.”
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