“Through this past year we have learned the true meaning of resiliency as our public/private network has responded time and time again in protecting our businesses and our citizens in these unprecedented times. It’s the meaningful relationships and dedicated support that now allows us to continue the work of diversifying and growing our regional economy to the benefit of all of our Upstate communities”
-Rich Werner, President & CEO
Upstate Colorado Economic Development is a nonprofit, county-wide economic development corporation formed as a partnership between government and the private sector.
Throughout Upstate’s history, we have helped thousands of businesses locate and expand in the region, contributing jobs, provided funding sources, and overseen a number of programs supporting the growth of our regional economy.
2020 presented unique challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in stronger regional partnerships with a focus on supporting local secondary businesses. In addition to our work with primary employers, Upstate Colorado has administered nearly $5,000,000 in grants to support high-risk businesses in an effort to #KeepNoCoOpen through the support of the county and municipal contributions.
Unifying the Region
2020 was a pivotal year for Upstate Colorado to further develop and define regional marketing and attraction efforts. Regional partners came together to disseminate information faster, and on a more collective front, than ever before in light of the pandemic. Through the NoCo REDI MOU, Upstate and regional economic development partners administered 4 joint COVID response surveys to capture the business climate and develop programs and resources needed most based on the collective 1,600+ responses. The REDI partnership also developed its first regional marketing initiative showcasing COVID-19 response and resiliency in Northern Colorado.
In 2020, 61% of the 49 new business opportunities worked by Upstate came directly from companies, site selection consultants, realtors, and/or marketing and outreach efforts. Our traditional outreach efforts were pivoted away from, focusing on assisting local companies who needed resources and financial relief from COVID-19 guidelines and operating restrictions.
Ongoing marketing efforts in the coming year will focus on the growth clusters, as identified through the NoCo REDI cluster study including:
- Bioscience & Medical Devices
- Distribution & E-Commerce
- Fabrication & Production Technology Manufacturing
- Food Processing
- Information Technology
Securing Future Generations & Job Opportunitites
As we work to further define and capitalize on Weld’s diverse strengths, geography, and economic opportunities, we continue our support of all regional leadership programs, Bright Futures, and the WeldWorks Labor Team which all help connect government and private sectors to improve capacity for Economic Development.
Upstate has been home to Bright Futures since its inception providing programmatic and administrative support to incubate the program as it has grown to foster a skilled workforce. In the 2019-2020 school year, Bright Futures helped students further their education awarding over $2.6M in scholarships to more than 1,500 Weld resident students. In 2021, we are pleased to announce that Bright Futures has moved to its permanent home under the Weld Trust and NCMC Foundation, further aligning with workforce needs.
The WeldWorks Labor Team has consistently met to provide technical assistance to new companies locating to the region, as well as existing employers looking to expand. The team identifies labor development opportunities by comprehensively reviewing and managing various local, county, and state programs.
Resiliency through COVID Response
Upstate continued normal operations throughout 2020, facilitating business retention and expansion efforts and managing prospect leads. We had contact with 41 existing businesses, of which 11 had expansion projects or needed in-depth assistance. Along with our partners, we worked 49 new leads which involved sending out 211 Weld property brochures. 9 leads became active recruitment opportunities and two have located or announced plans to locate.
Facilitating support to our existing businesses became our top challenge and priority, shifting focus to help secondary businesses who were most impacted by COVID guidelines and restrictions. Working with the county and local municipalities, Upstate administered two rounds of the Weld County Business Recovery Program and one round of the Service Industry Relief Fund. In total, we were able to sign over $4.5M in grant funding to 398 local businesses, supporting 3,185 jobs.
Behind the scenes, Upstate continued to market and administer the Weld Enterprise Zone (EZ) and Weld/Larimer Revolving Loan Fund. The EZ program approved 157 eligible companies who collectively earned $21.5M in state income tax credits by investing $776.9M, creating 226 new jobs, and retained 7,871 jobs. In 2020, one Revolving Loan Fund loan was paid off, and currently services loans to three companies totaling $1.4M.
Pro-Business Advocacy and Support
Upstate Colorado is proud to represent Weld County’s core industries through pro-business advocacy and continues to work with all our partners to facilitate the recovery of our economy through the pandemic. Our team has consistently met with the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (NCLA) and the Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) to help support and monitor influencing issues impacting businesses and has coordinated with local communities to develop local incentive policies.
Powering Colorado is supported by Upstate staff to provide economic impact data, information, and news that highlights Weld County’s impact on Colorado, as a key driver of energy, agriculture, and other GRP outputs.