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Press Release: Office of Just Transition Awards Funds for Entrepreneurship Center to Support Hayden’s Coal Transition

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For Immediate Release | May 10, 2024

(DENVER) – The Office of Just Transition (OJT) within the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has announced a Coal Transition Community grant award of $400,000 to support the construction of an Entrepreneurship Center in Hayden, Colorado.

Once complete, the center will expand the Town’s capacity to coordinate local and regional economic and workforce development by providing a physical programming space to support Hayden’s existing and emerging businesses.

“The Hayden Entrepreneurship Center, which will be named the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center, will be transformative for Hayden and the greater Northwest Colorado,” said Hayden Town Manager Mathew Mendisco. “It will be the first center that will be publicly owned and driven by community success as a whole and not focused on single sectors. This will be the place in West Routt County where businesses come together to share ideas and perspectives as well as the community being able to spur economic development at the grassroots level.”

Creating a robust “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” is a key piece of Hayden’s long-term coal transition strategy, and this project will support that goal. The goal is to foster economic diversity, support existing businesses, create new employment opportunities, and increase tax revenues to benefit the Town of Hayden and other special districts in the area.

"We hope our grant will be a catalyst for additional funds to complete the Entrepreneurship Center," said OJT Director Wade Buchanan. “This award complements OJT’s previous $900,000 grant to Hayden for its Northwest Colorado Business District. Both these projects demonstrate the state’s commitment to helping Hayden grow and diversify its economy.”

Earlier this month, Hayden broke ground on the 117-acre business district, adjacent to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

In addition to OJT’s grant, Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) has granted $150,000 for demolition of an existing structure and the preliminary design for the new Entrepreneurship Center in downtown Hayden. The Boettcher Foundation also awarded $50,000 for reconstruction and project implementation.

The Coal Transition Community Assistance Grant program grew out of OJT’s Just Transition Action Plan, which outlines steps the State of Colorado plans to take to
help communities that have relied on coal mines and coal-fired power plants for employment find new sources of property tax revenue and jobs. Between OJT and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), approximately $9.62 million in funding has been allocated for Community Grants during this phase of funding.

OJT and OEDIT are encouraging proposals for pivotal economic development activities and strategies from other coal transition communities. In addition to the Yampa Valley counties of Rio Blanco, Moffat, and Routt, funding is available to the “West End” (comprising the towns of Nucla and Naturita in Montrose County and Norwood in San Miguel County), Pueblo County, and Morgan County, as well as Delta, El Paso, Gunnison, La Plata and Larimer counties.

About the Office of Just Transition 
Colorado created the Office of Just Transition within Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment in 2019 to assist workers and communities that will be adversely affected by the loss of jobs and revenues due to the closure of coal mines and coal-fired power plants. Its purpose is to help workers transition to new, high-quality, jobs, to help communities continue to thrive by expanding and attracting diverse businesses, and to replace lost revenues. Learn more about the Office of Just Transition, its action plan and the corresponding legislation on the Office of Just Transition website.