Democratic jobs bill passes House committee

A House committee on Tuesday voted to spend money on economic development. Not only that, but the vote was in support of a Democrat’s bill.

The Economic & Business Development Committee voted 10-3 to advance Rep. Max Tyler’s HB12-1129 to the Appropriations Committee.

The bill seeks an extra $300,000 for the state’s network of Small Business Development Centers, which leverage local and federal matching funds to provide instruction and consulting to help turn entrepreneurs’ big ideas into businesses that are thriving – and hiring.

Tyler, D-Lakewood, summarized why he thinks the SBDC program should be a high-priority investment for state economic development dollars.

“With a staff of four and a General Fund appropriation of less than $85,000, the centers served over 5,500 businesses, created 1,700 new jobs, over 3,600 jobs retained and assisted in more than $132 million in small business capital formation, and this was in 2011,” he told the committee.

The bill is supported by such organizations as the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the state Economic Development Commission.

“We have a proven, successful program in Colorado that’s been working for over 20 years,” Rep. Tyler said.

Tyler said providing additional funding to the program is important because the state is currently not funding the program well enough to get all the matching funds that are available. One condition of the bill is that none of the $300,000 that may be approved will be allocated unless there are matching funds actually available.

There are currently 14 centers in the state, with most located either within local Chambers of Commerce or on college campuses.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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