Economic Bills Moving Forward

Jobs and the economy have been two of the most important issues facing Colorado since I took office in 2009, and I've sponsored a number of bills regarding economic issues since then. In 2012, two of the economic bills I'm sponsoring have passed at least one committee, and I'm hoping they will be signed into law so they can help us build a more prosperous future.

Senate Bill 12-058, also known as the Colorado Entrepreneur Act, passed a Senate third reading on Feb. 17. In short, the bill would authorize the establishment of a state Venture Capital Advisory Board (VCAB), which would be charged with studying venture capital in Colorado and finding ways that we can increase its availability. The VCAB would be a volunteer board, so no state money would be used, but its potential for fostering economic growth could be tremendous.

I currently serve on the state's Venture Capital Authority board, and  I've learned that Colorado's availability of venture capital has dwindled by perhaps 90 percent since 2000. Meanwhile, other states have crafted strategies to establish large pools of venture capital, such as Utah's Fund of Funds structure. We hope that passing SB-058 would make it possible for us to compete with other states, whether it's by establishing a Fund of Funds or by employing another strategy. The bill will have its next hearing in the House Economic and Business Development committee.

Senate Bill 12-144, the Key Industries bill, passed the Senate Business, Labor and Technology committee on Feb. 13. The bill would authorize the state's Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to establish strategies that would foster growth in a number of Colorado's top industry sectors, such as bioscience and clean technology.

By focusing on key industry sectors, we hope to be able to build on our strengths as a state by helping our existing businesses prosper and by attracting new firms to Colorado. Some of the possible strategies include focusing on workforce development, marketing and/or branding, entrepreneurial opportunities, partnerships and access to capital. The bill is closely aligned with strategies called for in the "Colorado Blueprint" plan for economic development, and its next stop will be the Senate Appropriations committee.

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