Colorado governor releases Rural Economic Blueprint | TheFencePost.com

Colorado governor releases Rural Economic Blueprint

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis released his Rural Economic Blueprint last week to illustrate his commitment to expanding rural broadband access, reducing health care costs, repairing rural roads and bridges, investing in rural economic development, and supporting agriculture producers through securing access to markets.

In a press call prior to the announcement, Gov. Polis said he recognizes the unique challenges faced in rural Colorado and he has engaged with rural partners and stakeholders through over 155 outreach meetings and listening sessions.

He recognized the economic impact of Colorado agriculture and said all citizens are involved in the industry as consumers, whether or not they’re also involved in production.

“Our goal as an administration, including our Ag Commissioner Kate Greenberg, is to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers and that includes increasing diverse market opportunities for grown in Colorado and raised in Colorado products,” he said. “Along those lines, a focus on high margin products.”

He said the administration plans to focus upon growing the value of the state’s organic crop production from $134 to $150 million. He said he is proud to have signed an exemption on fertilizer tax as well as work with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union to increase cooperatives and wages.

Polis also said he’s excited about the CHAMP hemp advancement program to ensure the state can leverage its position as first in the production of industrial hemp to the benefit of farmers and rural communities. He said there is a $10 million budget for the Colorado Water Plan.

He also spoke to the rural educator shortage and addressing it through loan forgiveness for those educators who teach in underserved areas, affordable teacher housing, and partnering with the Department of Local Affairs to give rural educators a voice.

Polis said he wants to ensure that rural Colorado will be a winner in energy transition, including benefitting from renewable energy.

“The sun shines and the wind blows in eastern Colorado and also in western Colorado,” he said. “It’s a lot more predictable and a lower cost energy source than coal power plants, especially for some of those communities that rely on those coal jobs, we want to make sure they’re well positioned to benefit from the renewable energy future.” ❖

—Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.