Partner Spotlight: Arvada Economic Development Association

Through our partner spotlight series, you’ll learn more about some of the initiatives underway by partners engaged in the Rocky Mountain Partnership.

Each partner featured demonstrates one or more of the core tenets of the Rocky Mountain Partnership’s framework to improve economic and social mobility and close inequities for those most impacted by our work:

  • We are working towards a common vision
  • We are better when we are working together
  • We engage community members most impacted by our work to make change
  • We uses data (both quantitative and qualitative) to inform action
  • We work to impact systems, not just programs and behaviors

Arvada Economic Development Association Drives Innovative State Policy Change to Retain Diverse Talent

Daniel Ryley, executive director of the Arvada Economic Development Association (AEDA) is practiced at working in the intersection of business, government and community. It’s a crucial component of his work at AEDA, a nonprofit whose mission is to support Arvada’s businesses so they can expand to create jobs, increase revenues and make capital investment in alignment with the goals of the City.

“There’s a longstanding history of trust between the city and the business community,” said Daniel. “A part of AEDA’s strategy is to cultivate and sustain relationships with business owners by going out into the community. This helps us understand their challenges and how we can better address them.”

It was in these community conversations that Daniel noticed an opportunity for innovation. Over the years, it was becoming harder for the people working in Arvada’s businesses, those who had been hired and specially trained for their role, to afford the city’s cost of living. Though employers were paying livable wages, increased rent prices and high down payments made it difficult for employees to live within a reasonable commute of their place of employment. This challenge put pressure on Arvada’s workforce and made it increasingly difficult to retain talent.

That’s where Colorado House Bill 23-1189: Employer Assistance for Home Purchase Tax Credit comes in. Inspired by existing law, Daniel proposed the policy that would become HB23-1189 as a means to incentivize businesses to support their employees on their path to home ownership. After years of conversations with legislators and community leaders about his idea, Daniel also shared the policy with RMP’s Community Leaders Council. It was in direct alignment to RMP’s commitment to impact systems, not just programs and behaviors.

“Working with RMP helped our stakeholders get feedback on the bill in real time,” shared Daniel. “RMP brings something unique to the table – businesses, legislators, and the people who live in the community. It was great to have this perspective as we were drafting the legislation.”

The bill provides a tax credit for employers who support their employees with housing down payment assistance. The legislation incentivizes but doesn’t prescribe – intentionally created to empower businesses to structure the form of support that would help their employees break down barriers to homeownership. Currently, the bill has no restrictions on income or first time home buyer status. As long as the savings accrued is used toward a down payment, any employers and employees with tax liability can receive the benefits.

After years of collaboration, HB23-1189 has officially passed and is waiting to be signed into law by Governor Jared Polis! It demonstrates the popularity of public-private partnership, and challenges legislators to reimagine their approach to housing accessibility. It also shows the power that comes with a focus on changing systems, not just programs and behaviors.

Helping Employers Understand this Innovative Policy

Part of the Rocky Mountain Partnership (RMP) Backbone Team’s role is to support alignment and engagement with efforts across the region. We are excited to work with Daniel to strategize how to best share this tax credit opportunity with employers who are engaged in RMP’s collective work. This tax credit can be a key tool in supporting employee retention while also addressing a critical need that many of our region’s workers struggle with: housing.

We’d like to introduce you to RMP’s newest Backbone team member, Jessica Scherden. As RMP’s Institute Director, she is stepping in to project manage RMP’s efforts to support employers to improve how they hire, retain, and promote diverse talent, and will play an instrumental role in working with Daniel to bring this information to participating employers.

Click the button below to learn more about RMP’s work to support employers to hire, retain, and promote diverse talent.

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