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Economic development bill advances

It would allow metro districts like Pueblo West to pursue projects

BY PETER STRESCINO

THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

The state Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee unanimously advanced a bill that would free Pueblo West and other metro districts from restrictions from pursuing economic development projects.

The panel voted 7-0 Monday to place the bill, HB1011, on the Senate consent calendar, possibly this week, said Sen. Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.

If the bill is signed into law, the board of a metropolitan district would have the power to provide activities in support of business recruitment, management and development within the district. Deleted from the law was the requirement that a metro district have the valuation for assessment within the district of more than $1.25 billion.

Garcia said that the bill, which was principally aimed at Pueblo West, would also free an additional 1,471 designated districts throughout the state, as in fire districts and many other types of entities.

The bill provides no taxing authority to create a Pueblo Economic Development Corp. or have the power to use eminent domain for any economic development use.

The bill passed the House Feb. 2, and if it’s not pulled from the consent calendar will go to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk for his signature.

“I’d rather not say anything until it’s done,” said Darrin Tangeman, Pueblo West district manager.

“Too often, Pueblo West is at a disadvantage in attracting business to invest in the area,” Garcia said Tuesday. “This legislation is a small, but important step that removes a barrier to business development and ultimately helps level the playing field for Pueblo West.”

The House voted in February to lift restrictions on the district. The bill is co-sponsored by Garcia and Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City. Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Alamosa, was its main House sponsor, with state Reps. Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo, and Daneya Esgar, DPueblo, among its House co-sponsors.

When respondents on The Pueblo Chieftain website on Feb. 3 worried that Pueblo West would propose a tax for an economic development unit, the district responded online: “The passage of this bill simply allows the metro district to use existing time and resources to inform, market and actively attract businesses and jobs to the community of Pueblo West. Pueblo West has over 400 acres of available business zoned property, existing state enterprise zone tax incentives and $122 million in retail and commercial market surplus to bring businesses to our community. Without a change to this law, all of these resources simply go to waste and our community becomes an unplanned patchwork of disparate and uncoordinated business clusters that have no semblance of vision or community identity.”

pstress@chieftain.com

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