The application was sent in to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Tourism this week. If Montrose were to be recognized as one of two RTAs in the state, it would be eligible for a share of a potential $50 in state sales tax rebates to attract tourism-related development.
The IGA also creates a local governmental task force to continue work on the application, which must now be analyzed and reviewed by a third party, per the State Regional Tourism Act of 2009. The OEDIT may then request a formal presentation of Montrose’s plan. A decision by the state is promised for October of this year.
The effort by Montrose County and the municipalities of Olathe, Nucla, Naturita and Montrose is a scaled-down version of a plan proposed earlier this year by Montrose Citizen’s for Funding Our Future (MC4FF) and the Gunnison River Economic Attraction Team (GREAT). Those two organizations, in the persons of Dave Laursen and Richard Harding, respectively, would have combined six counties in the RTA. All six participated in a task force leading up to the original application deadline of March 21. However, in the event, San Miguel, Ouray, Hinsdale, Gunnison and Delta counties decided to let Montrose go it alone.
Ouray County commissioners cited their concern over the vague, unformed nature of the legislation, the uncertainty of any funding in a time of budget deficits, and potential financial risk to the county regarding bonding for the projects to be built – should the RTA designation be granted. Commissioners also stated their belief that the 2009 Act was likely intended to attract huge projects, like a NASCAR track or a Dollywood-like theme park, to the Front Range.
Montrose commissioners remained undaunted, however, stating that they shouldn’t let the opportunity pass them by, and that by staying involved they could help to shape the admittedly undefined effort to boost the state’s tourism economy.
“MC4FF has been working hard and heavy,” Laursen told the commissioners Monday.