New statewide rural economic blueprint released


STATEWIDE — Saturday saw the unveiling of a new, statewide Rural Economic Blueprint plan by the Polis Administration. The plan is a combination of wide ranging and potentially costly goals for a variety of issues across Colorado’s rural communities.

A press release from the Governor’s office noted that the Rural Economic Blueprint, outline reads: “This Blueprint will address concerns and challenges in rural communities by leveraging existing assets, building on innovative programs, and increasing efforts to ensure that all Coloradans have the opportunity to thrive.”

“I ran on ensuring a Colorado for all where everyone in our state has the opportunity to thrive. I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to lower the cost of health care in rural areas and provide free, full-day kindergarten, and keep our economy on the right track,” added Governor Jared Polis. “We are excited to unveil our rural economic blueprint, which we believe will lead to more prosperity all across our state from the Eastern Plains to Southern Colorado to the Western Slope. With true collaboration between rural communities and the state, we can truly build a Colorado for All.”

The administration also plans to focus on expanding rural access to broadband services, addressing health care costs, repairing rural roads and bridges, investing in rural economic development, and supporting farming and ranching communities.

The plan is a product of more than 155 meetings and listening sessions by several state agencies, including the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), Department of Agriculture (CDA), and Department of Transportation (CDOT).

“Our rural communities are part of our economic life-blood. This blueprint builds upon Colorado’s current successful rural economic development programs and encourages innovative practices that work,” said Betsy Markey, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “OEDIT’s team is here to support and is a resource for our rural communities.”

The focus areas of the Blueprint include climate issues, agriculture, water, healthcare, energy, road and bridge maintenance, education, and child development.

The plan has also listed some of the following goals:

•Expanding opportunities to access our outdoors and ensure that Colorado remains a leader in outdoor recreation;

•Identifying additional resources that can be set aside to meet the needs of implementing the Colorado Water Plan;

• Leveraging current public lands and promoting strategies that prepare for the deployment of renewable energy;

• Targeting investments that will increase the number of children in high-        quality child care from 64,341 to 81,090 across the state;

• Addressing teacher shortages and retention;

• Continuing our efforts to identify other mechanisms to save Coloradans money on health care;

• Ensuring Coloradans have equal access to affordable, fast, and reliable broadband service.

• Identifying additional resources to improve rural roads and highways; and

• Building on economic development programs that serve rural communities.

• Leveraging existing resources to support workforce housing needs and livability in rural communities.

The plan is anticipated to have wide-ranging effects. The results of the plans’ implementation remain to be seen.

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