Economic development programs are directed at the attraction or retention of basic employment in the County. Economic development programs also address related priorities including enhancement of per capita wages and salaries and diversification of the area’s employment base.
In El Paso County, the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation (EDC), is an independent non-profit organization which evolved from the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and is primarily responsible for identifying and approaching prospective employers. It is largely funded by private donations and grants channeled through the City of Colorado Springs.
El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs also maintain separate economic development divisions that work in cooperation with the EDC as well as independently. Among other things, the respective divisions are responsible for those programs and activities which require governmental participation or action.
Some of the programs and activities sponsored through the County’s Office of Economic Development and Public Finance include the following:
  • State Enterprise Zone administration
  • Administration of tax credits
  • Industrial revenue bonds
  • Small business Administration programs
  • Administration of other grants
  • HUD small business loans


Most of the County programs are transparent to incorporated versus unincorporated boundaries. The County has an adopted plan for Enterprise Zone Administration which also includes some discussion of other areas of economic development.
Issue 5.1 Encourage Quality Economic Development
One of the key challenges associated with economic development is that it tends to be a moving target. For example, while upwards of 50,000 net jobs were added in the County between 1992 and 1996, there was very little net job creation in the prior five year period. Although the employment future of the County may be difficult to forecast, it will almost certainly involve continued cycles and remain relatively dependent on the military as its core employment sector.
El Paso County has now grown to a point that the concept of economic development is being called into question, at least during high points in the economic cycle. Although new jobs create economic opportunity and generally enhance property values, associated increases in population and industrial/commercial type businesses place stress on existing services and infrastructure systems.
New jobs also have varying impacts on the economy, infrastructure, and the natural environment. While a certain number of lower paying basic jobs fill a necessary niche in the local economy, the benefits are generally offset by the fact that lower paying jobs tend to create a decrease in net public revenues. Somewhat higher paying employers which are exempt from some or all property taxes may also not fully offset their public costs. If a major new employer locates in an area with adequate transportation, water, sewer and road capacity, its infrastructure demands will be much lower than if that same employer located in an area with reduced capacity.
Most County residents would say that they want to live in a place with a vibrant community, a vigorous economy and a healthy environment, yet it is the bottom line that influences political decisions. Job creation becomes paramount, even if this practice is at the expense of community character and environmental conditions. However, community vitality and environmental conditions do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive of a vigorous economy. Over the long run, a healthy society is supported by both a strong economy and a sound environment, which in turn, contribute to community vitality.
Each sub-area of the unincorporated County presents its own set of unique economic development challenges and opportunities. These relate generally to a myriad of factors including natural systems, availability of services and existing development. For example, while the tourist economy is a significant aspect of planning for the Ute Pass area, agriculture is most important to many residents of eastern El Paso County.
Goal 5.1 Maintain a land use environment which encourages quality economic development that is compatible with surrounding land uses.
Policy 5.1.1
Encourage economic development that enhances a sense of community, provides vigor to the economy and considers the environment while contributing to the overall health of the County.
Policy 5.1.2
Encourage communities to identify economic goals that are compatible with the vitality of their communities through the small area planning process.
Policy 5.1.3
Encourage economic development strategies tailored to the unique conditions of particular subareas of the County.
Policy 5.1.4
Allow for the maintenance of a sufficient inventory of available sites for employment uses throughout the County.
Policy 5.1.5
Promote quality and diverse economic development that is consistent with adopted plans, emphasizing both the creation and retention of jobs that meet the needs of citizens of the County at all skill levels.
Policy 5.1.6
Promote economic development alternatives, such as locating in industrial parks, which place the lowest strain on available infrastructure.
Policy 5.1.7
Support land use policies that allow legitimate employment opportunities for individuals to work out of their homes especially in areas which are not conducive to large scale non-residential development and/or would otherwise require long commuting times.
Policy 5.1.8
Encourage the retention and development of existing military installations by protecting their operational integrity and promoting compatible adjoining land uses.
Policy 5.1.9
Encourage appropriate economic development in rural areas of the County as a means of providing local employment opportunities, increasing community tax base, and reducing long commutes.
Policy 5.1.10
Accommodate the improvement and development of all educational institutions as a means of maintaining a highly educated work force to compete for high quality economic development.
Policy 5.1.11
Encourage the retention of agricultural land based businesses by protecting their operational integrity and promoting compatible adjoining land uses.
Policy 5.1.12
Discourage or prevent land uses which threaten the long-term operating viability of critical infrastructure, such as the airport and industrial areas which must grow to accommodate new primary jobs for the County’s growing population.

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