Hickenlooper signs rural economic development bill

Politics

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signs into a law a bill that will provide economic development grants to job creation projects in smaller, rural communities.

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DENVER — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday signed a bill into law that will continue to fund economic development grants for projects in smaller, rural communities.

House Bill 1241 funds the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which administers grants to spark job creation projects through the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).

“This program delivers much-needed funds and technical expertise to rural Colorado communities,” Hickenlooper said during a small bill signing ceremony in the Capitol’s west foyer Tuesday.

“REDI supports plans and projects that create jobs, drive capital investment and increase wages to help grow and create economic diversity in rural economies.”

The program has a total grant budget of $2.7 million, of which $530,000 has been awarded. Right now, seven projects are under consideration, representing $20 million in capital investment and more than 150 new jobs in rural areas.

“This is focused on growing jobs,” said Ken Lund, the executive director of OEDIT. “Our normal programs help larger projects that create a certain number of new jobs. This program helps us get funding to rural communities and smaller projects that don’t qualify for the kinds of grants we normally offer.

Hickenlooper, who faces reelection this fall, might have signed the appropriations bill behind closed doors if not for the political imperative of repairing some of the damage done by Democrats last year with voters in rural communities.

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