The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced today that it has hired the state’s first three location neutral employees to help expand rural prosperity.
Location Neutral Employment is a new performance-based incentive program offered by OEDIT, designed to encourage companies to hire remote workers for its metro-based companies. The program provides a standard Job Growth Incentive Tax Credit for urban/rural job creation with an additional Strategic Fund cash incentive for each remote rural job created in an eligible rural county. The Location Neutral Employment incentive provides a state income tax credit and a per job cash grant to businesses undertaking job creation projects in the State.
“We’ve made progress on lowering the cost of health care in rural communities, working with our agriculture industry and increasing rural economic development but there’s more we can do,” said Governor Jared Polis. “The state should be meeting rural Coloradans where they are and help folks get ahead. That’s why our administration is committed to expanding opportunity for our rural communities while ensuring they are prepared for the future. This move will help get us closer to that goal.”
Katharina (Kat) Papenbrock will represent Western Colorado, Greg Thomason will represent Eastern Colorado and Thomas Monaco will represent Southern Colorado.
“OEDIT wants to lead by example, showing how metro offices can benefit from the expertise and outreach of Colorado’s remote workers,” said Glenn Plagens, director of business support and rural prosperity for OEDIT. “By embedding our employees directly in the communities they serve, we can better support greater Colorado and help drive economic prosperity.”
The Rural Opportunity Representatives will represent OEDIT and be responsible for overseeing and executing multiple projects to advance Colorado’s rural communities. This work includes managing the Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP), coordinating rural strategy for their respective regions, working with other OEDIT offices including the Small Business Development Center, Minority Business Office and the Employee Ownership Network and representing OEDIT on Manufacturer’s Edge.
Manufacturer’s Edge (ME) is the official representative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership network in Colorado. It supports the strength and competitiveness of Colorado manufacturers through coaching, training and consulting, collaboration-focused industry programs and by leveraging government, university and economic development partnerships. The Rural Opportunity Representatives will also support OEDIT and ME through their participation in the Manufacturing Policy Academy Initiative. This initiative is a multi-year program supported by the National Institute of Science and Technology and the State Science & Technology Institute to strengthen Colorado’s manufacturers. The Policy Academy Initiative will focus on rural manufacturing and employee ownership as a means to business succession.
Kat Papenbrock has worked at the Ouray Tourism Office (OTO) for the past eight years, most recently as the executive director. During her tenure, she completely restructured their destination marketing program, resulting in the OTO being recognized by the state for its effective marketing program. During her time with the Ouray Tourism Office she has participated in successful collaborative marketing grants and projects with the Southwest Colorado Travel Region, Ouray County, the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop, Alpine Loop and Southwest Colorado Crafted Beverages Tour. Prior to working with the OTO, she owned and operated a locally-sourced restaurant in Ouray. She currently sits on the Board of the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning, is the Chair of the Region 10 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee, sits on the Ouray Community Economic Development Committee and is Vice-Chair of the Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Organizations. She is a passionate advocate of the quality of life and recreational opportunities in the San Juan Mountains region. Papenbrock has a graduate degree in Art History and Museum Studies.
Greg Thomason comes to OEDIT from the Morgan County Economic Development Corporation where he has been the executive director since 2016. Thomason has provided organizations with strategic leadership, advancing quantitative andqualitative initiatives. Serving as a business catalyst, he has developed profitable partnerships for new-to-market companies that include the launch of an NFL Consumer Product brand; the first-of-its-kind partnership between a trade magazine and NASA; generating $1.5 million in sales revenue for three publications positioned in highly competitive markets; and, selection into the Rocky Mountain Innosphere’s Fall 2014 Lean Launchpad Program. He currently serves on the boards of directors with the Colorado Growth & Revitalization Fund, the Economic Development Council of Colorado; and the Northeast Colorado Association of Local Governments. Thomason holds an Executive M.B.A., with certification in E-commerce, from the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and a BS in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
Thomas Monaco comes to OEDIT from the San Luis Valley Small Business Development Center where he served as the director. Prior to that, he was the Production Manager and an Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. Monaco’s primary areas of expertise are in design/fabrication, manufacturing and facility logistics. As an entrepreneur, he ran his own custom design and fabrication company in central Florida for 11 years and served as a consultant to numerous businesses, arts organizations and universities. Monaco also taught in higher education for 14 years at Ohio Northern University and the University of Florida. He holds a BFA in Technical Theatre Production from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Design & Technology from the University of Missouri / Kansas City.