Designation & Eligibility

Designation & Eligibility

Colorado Economic Development Commission Approved Zone Designations

Following is information on the re-designation application process and the qualifying data.


State Enterprise Zone status provides businesses located in the designated area tax credits against their state income tax liability. EZ incentives encourage economic development in distressed areas of the state. Credits are earned for investment in business personal property, investment in job training, adding employees, providing health care benefits, increased R&D expenditures and rehabilitating vacant buildings for commercial use. Contributors to approved non-profit organizations also receive income tax credits when donating to economic development projects.

OEDIT created a review process to evaluate all EZ areas within the state, and had new designations in place effective January 1, 2016. Enterprise zone designations will be reviewed every ten years.


The program supports new employment opportunities to overcome conditions of unemployment, underemployment, net out-migration of population, chronic economic distress, deterioration of main street business districts, or sudden and severe economic dislocations. It also provides incentives for private enterprise to expand and for new businesses to locate in economically distressed areas, providing job opportunities for residents. The goal is to rally community efforts and various programs to bring about additional employment opportunities and business development while supporting economically viable central business districts.


An Enterprise Zone may be proposed by any municipality, county or group of contiguous municipalities or counties. The EZ is an area within this that has a population <=150,000 rural, or <=115,000 urban. Rural is defined as a county, municipality or unincorporated place (more than 10 miles from any municipality with a population of >50,000) having a population of less than 50,000. Areas within a zone need not be contiguous. There may not be more than one zone designated within a county.

Up to 16 Enterprise Zones may be designated.

In order for an area to receive Enterprise Zone status, it must meet at least 1 of 3 economic distress criteria:

  • Per Capita Income <75% of State Avg. for most recent period. Less than $23,331.75 for the ACS 5-year average data.
  • Unemployment Rate 25% > State Avg. over most recent 12 months. Greater than 10.63% for the ACS 5-year average data.
  • Population Growth Rate <25% of State Avg. for most recent 5-year period. Less than 1.45% for the ACS 5-year average and DOLA 2013 data.

OEDIT has data and interactive tools that are available to local governments or representative organizations so that they can evaluate and propose areas for EZ status.

We encourage designation by census tract and block group that nest within counties, but local representatives may bring forward other Census Bureau and DOLA defined places for which data is available per the grid below.

2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate (2013 DOLA)

Geographic LevelPopulation Growth RatePer Capita IncomeUnemployment Rate

OEDIT has selected the ACS 5-year estimates as the standard for eligibility analysis because it provides metrics for small geographic areas more in line with targeted economic development zones and the data is more reliable. Other U.S. Census Bureau data may be used to meet the basic eligibility requirements – data availability often depends on population size within the area. If you would like to propose using data other than what we provide below in our tools, you may present a case as to why another data set is more credible for the area. Consider the estimates’ timeliness and margin of error as compared to the ACS 5-year estimate.

1-year estimates3-year estimates5-year estimates
12 months of collected data36 months of collected data60 months of collected data
Data for areas with populations of 65,000+Data for areas with populations of 20,000+Data for all areas
Smallest sample sizeLarger sample size than 1-yearLargest sample size
Less reliable than 3-year or 5-yearMore reliable than 1-year; less reliable than 5-yearMost reliable
Most current dataLess current than 1-year estimates; more current than 5-yearLeast current
Best used when currency is more important than precision. Analyzing large populations.Best used when precise than 1-year, more current than 5-year Analyzing smaller populations. Examining smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available.Best used when precision is more important than currency. Analyzing very small populations. Examining tracts and other smaller geographies because 1-year estimates are not available.

Last release: 2013 ACS 1-year estimates on Sept. 18, 2014. 2011-2013 ACS 3-year estimates on Oct. 23, 2014. 2009-2013 ACS 5-year estimates on Dec. 4, 2014.

Jill Corbin Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840
Jill Corbin Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840
Jill Corbin Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840
Jill Corbin Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (303) 892-3840