Editor's Note: 'Our Colorado' helps us all navigate the challenges related to growth while celebrating life in the state we love. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at OurCO@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 'Our Colorado' stories here.
ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. — As prices, rent, and property taxes increase across ur Colorado, many businesses might be looking for a cheaper alternative. So, one rural county is stepping up to make it easier to welcome them with open arms.
“At one point, Elbert County had a lot more cows than it had people. And we're starting see, (at) some point in the near future we’re gonna have more people than we have cows,” county manager Sam Albrecht said.
With that admitted growth, comes the need for employment in Elbert County. Officials there have decided to ease up on rules regarding rezoning along major routes through the county, in what they call “economic development zones," otherwise known as EDZs.
“Most of Elbert County is zoned (for) agriculture and in order to change that to a commercial zoning is, you have to go through a land use process and it can get complicated and it can take time,” the county manager explained.
What the EDZ allows for is, after a review by the county, a business could use the property for commercial use without having to go through the land use process.
“It makes it a lot easier for them to come through and from startup to operations, it cuts almost a year off that process,” Albrecht said.
That time and money saved can act as a draw for businesses looking to relocate. And the county already has its first taker, a business called Preferred Medical Products, which relocated from Centennial to outside of Matheson.
“(The owner) was really anxious to move his business out of the Denver metro area into a more rural area, a place he felt was better for families and workers,” Albrecht explained.
The county manager said there are “other applicants” that are still evaluating things before attempting to move into an EDZ, but added that while the county is trying to attract business, he doesn’t expect growth to take over the small town feel of Elbert County.
“It’s been grazing country for a long time and I think it will continue to have a lot of grass,” he said.