Originally published by Colorado Municipal League in Knowledge Now Opportunity Zones, March 2019
READY FOR OPPORTUNITY
By Chelsea Rosty, Montrose director of business innovation
When community development professionals in Montrose learned about Opportunity Zones (OZs), its leaders mobilized quickly. It did not take long before Montrose County, the City of Montrose, Montrose Economic Development Corporation, Region 10, and local developers gathered together to collaborate. “We systematically looked at every census tract in Montrose County,” said Chelsea Rosty, Montrose director of business innovation. “Our community leaders then selected three census tracts for recommendation to the state for approval as Opportunity Zones.”
One tract was selected in the remote western part of the county, and two were selected in the northeastern section of Montrose. The City was thrilled when the OZs were approved by the State of Colorado and U.S. Treasury. Representatives of the Montrose City Council, as well as the Montrose County Board of Commissioners, advocated for swift action to capitalize on the new designation. Staff and volunteers were tasked with researching OZ regulations to find even more meaningful solutions for the community.
Within one of Montrose’s Opportunity Zones sits the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA). The MURA project, known as Colorado Outdoors, is a new development along the underutilized Uncompahgre River. The 158-acre business park is a result of the City’s public–private partnership with developer Colorado Outdoors LLC and several community organizations.
“We are proud to be part of an effort to revitalize the property along an absolutely beautiful stretch of river,” said Colorado Outdoors President David Dragoo.
The development boasts the new 41,000 square foot manufacturing facility of the local manufacturing business Mayfly Outdoors opening in the spring 2019, along with abundant space and multimillion dollar river trail. “With the City’s leadership, we intend to make the project a destination for new and expanding businesses,” Dragoo added.
Following MURA’s formation, the Montrose Development and Revitalization Team was established, and immediately hosted a learning event featuring leaders from the Office of Economic Development & International Trade. The event was a nexus for local community engagement and further strengthened local development plans.
The City also began working with MBA students from the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business to study the community. The students selected MURA as their semester research topic and analyzed all aspects of the project, including the value of OZs. Presentations on the students’ findings were given to the City and representatives from Colorado Outdoors in January 2019 in Boulder.
Montrose County and the City of Montrose then came together on a successful grant application to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The $25,000 grant will be used to pay for a community prospectus outlining specific plans for the capitalizing on the OZ designation. The prospectus will include both high-level marketing and business incentive information, as well as detailed market analysis on key sites for developers and investors. Different than prospecti currently being developed for other communities, the prospectus will highlight the region’s strong business incentives for relocation and expansion.
The prospectus is slated for an April 2019 completion. With this report, Montrose intends to continue marketing itself to investors who have like-minded goals for the community. With the shovel-ready Colorado Outdoors project and additional properties highlighted in the report, City leaders and other community partners have high expectations for the future.
Photo provided by Colorado Outdoors, LLC.