Mesa County joins in efforts to attract remote workers

Mesa County is among the first applicants for grants to market a program that encourages companies to hire remote workers in rural areas of Colorado.

The Location Neutral Employment (LONE) grants provide communities up to $5,000 to market themselves to prospective employers and employees.

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership took the lead on marketing remote workers for Mesa County and experienced success in recruiting a company that provides software to manage customer service  to relocate part of its operations from California to Grand Junction.

NFOCU5 expects to move a dozen employees from Pasadena and has hired 30 people previously employed at StarTek, a Grand Junction call center that closed earlier this year. Over the next three years, INFOCU5 expects to hire up to 300 employees.

The company is the first in the Grand Valley to take advantage of LONE incentives. The program provides approved companies with a state job growth incentive tax credit as well as cash incentives for each remote worker employed in an eligible rural county. About half the employees in Grand Junction will meet the parameters for the incentives.

“From a very macro perspective, location neutral employment is the largest growing sector of employees, so it made sense for us to try and take advantage of that,” said Cilia Kohn, director of marketing and communications at GJEP. “INFOCU5’s arrival opens up a lot of opportunities for us to recruit more companies from California, and we admire their dedication to the Western Slope.”

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and Colorado Department of Local Affairs have set aside $300,000 over the next three years to fund rural marketing activities. Counties and regional economic development organizations are eligible to apply. Marketing funds may be used to create materials to attract companies that have been awarded a LONE incentive to their rural communities.

Makala Barton, economic development and public relations coordinator for Rio Blanco County, said she plans to use a grant to create promotional flyers and enhance the county’s economic development website with remote worker information. “Rio Blanco County owns its own 1G fiber optic broadband network with faster speeds than most urban areas at a lower cost. This positions us as an unexpected gem for location neutral workers looking for an off-the-beaten-path Colorado lifestyle.”