California canned cocktail maker looking at mountain town for distribution hub – The Denver Post

A California distiller and brewer is considering Montrose for a new canning and distribution hub, something that economic development officials said could help employ workers left behind when Russell Stover Chocolates closed its plant there in the summer of 2020.

The Colorado Economic Development Commission awarded the unnamed company, known as Project Chapter, $292,763 in Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits conditioned on it providing 40 net new jobs paying an average annual wage of $53,076, which is 128% of the average annual wage in Montrose County. Reno, Nev., is also under consideration.

About half of the jobs would involve production work, while the remainder would be in sales and delivery. The distiller also plans to add several additional retail jobs to staff a tasting room and restaurant, but the state did not incentivize those lower-paying positions. The company, which currently has 26 employees, makes canned cocktails, which are growing in popularity, as well as canned beer and distilled spirits.

Commissioner Wendell Pryor noted that the state has no dearth of brewers and distillers and questioned why another one should be incentivized, but voted along with the other commissioners to approve the project.

Sandy Head, executive director of the Montrose Economic Development Corp., said the company would be an excellent addition to the city’s Colorado Outdoors industrial park and provide jobs needed to replace some of the 289 positions lost when the Russell Stover closed its plant.

“We have been taking names and have 90 individuals who are anxious to get back into food production,” she said.

Elsmere Education, a Denver-based education technology company that received $1.7 million in state tax credits under the name Project Norman in September, has chosen Denver over Houston for 138 new jobs paying an average annual wage of $84.490, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade announced.

COEDIT staff are also working on a plan to allocate $95 million in federal funds under the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which is designed to help with economic recovery efforts with a special focus on disadvantaged businesses. About $54 million could go to the state’s Venture Capital Authority, with another $23 million targeted for Cash Collateral Support Program, which provides support for loans that lenders might otherwise consider too risky to make.

About $3 million of the money could go to help back leases for early childhood education providers, which are considered a key link in getting more parents back into the workforce.

COEDIT also announced Thursday that it has awarded $1.5 million in grants to 55 out of 84 applicants seeking funds to promote economic development efforts in the state. It also said that its Advanced Industries Accelerator Program had awarded $6.35 million in early-stage capital and retention grants to 22 Colorado companies and five researchers. The goal of those awards is to provide funding for promising technologies and products that can be manufactured in Colorado and exported globally.

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