Enterprise Zone Contribution Projects

A Win-Win for Taxpayers and Communities

Providing vital infrastructure can be a challenge for many small communities across Colorado. The Town of Bennett – an Adams County community located in the eastern plains off I-70 – is no exception. Enter initiatives like the Colorado Enterprise Zone Program, which help jumpstart development where it’s needed most.

Bennett had long outgrown its aging lagoons wastewater system, which was clearly hindering economic opportunities within the community. With 3,000 acres of developable land – much of which is zoned for both residential and commercial use – a significant investment in this vital infrastructure was needed to assure economic vitality for businesses and residents.

Town leaders began planning a new system that would meet the current and future needs of the community. But the project estimate came to a staggering $7.2 million – with only 736 water taps community wide to pick up the tab.

“Because of the large cost of this project, the Town began seeking any and all opportunities to reduce the overall burden to our residents,” said Trish Stiles, town administrator.

Thanks to her partnership and work with Adams County Economic Development (ACED), an idea came to mind. Since Bennett itself is located in an established Enterprise Zone – a state program that helps spur investment in economically distressed areas – she was familiar with program’s Contribution Projects Tax Credit.

“Contribution Projects allow citizens to invest in their local communities, thereby strengthening and revitalizing them. That’s the true reason for and success of the Enterprise Zone Program,” explained Tricia Allen, ACED interim president/CEO.

This component of Adams County’s Enterprise Zone Program encourages taxpayer contributions to nonprofits and communities that want to make vital improvements within the Zone. Stiles and her team moved quickly to submit the Town’s application, which was approved by ACED due to its project merit.

But how does it really work? Basically, individuals and organizations with Colorado state income tax liability earn a 25% tax credit on cash contributions (and 12.5% on the value of inkind contributions) to Bennett’s Wastewater Treatment Facility Contribution Project. It’s a win-win situation for both parties and Adams County.

“Contribution Projects allow citizens to invest in their local communities, thereby strengthening and revitalizing them. That’s the true reason for and success of the Enterprise Zone Program,” explained Tricia Allen, ACED interim president/CEO. 

After a year and a half of construction, the new Wastewater Treatment Facility was completed in October 2018.  Daymon Johnson, director of public works for the Town of Bennett, says the facility succeeded in not only replacing the old lagoon system and adding capacity, but in changing people’s perceptions of Bennett.

“This project has helped define where we stand as a town and where we can go,” explained Johnson. “Businesses and residents now see that Bennett is stepping up to the next level.” 

Karra Walker administers the Enterprise Zone at ACED and says the Bennett Contribution Project is a showpiece for the program.

“Infrastructure contribution projects are a high priority for us because there’s no better way for a community to create an environment that will attract, expand, or retain employers,” said Walker.

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