Good jobs coming, flu going, pot money disappears, and more 


Good jobs coming

The Colorado Economic Development Commission announced last week that it would provide incentives to bring a subsidiary of Centennial-based Sierra Nevada Corp. to Colorado Springs and along with it, 1,323 jobs paying an average annual wage of $83,720.

The state will supply $23.2 million in incentives, including tax incentives, to the aviation manufacturer. Sierra Completions will build an $88 million facility by the Colorado Springs Airport. Mayor Steve Bach told the Denver Post the move would help diversify the city's economy. — RM

Bad flu tapering off

More Coloradans were hospitalized for the flu this winter than during the 2009-10 flu pandemic.

Back then, there were 2,157 hospitalizations reported in the state. As of Feb. 7, this winter's flu had caused 2,747 Coloradans to be hospitalized. From Oct. 4 to Jan. 31, it caused 262 people in El Paso County to be hospitalized.

The good news is, the worst of it has passed. The flu peaked in Colorado in the week ending Dec. 27, when there were 578 hospitalizations reported — the highest number for a single week since the data began being collected in 2005. — JAS

Local food app blooms

The growing obsession with foods that are locally grown, raised or made has led many people to keep goats, bees and chickens in their backyards, or lovingly tend to organic gardens every summer. But we're not all nurturers.

Now, two local companies have created a free mobile app that will help the rest of us find locally produced food. LocalFood: Colorado Springs l Pikes Peak Region is the result of a collaboration between local food business assistance company LocalMotive and mobile app developer Vrello LLC. Though it officially launches Sunday, Feb. 22, it's already available via Google Play, and organizers expect it to be approved by the iTunes Store this week.

The app allows you to search by food type and lists places to buy food produced within 67 miles of the Springs. Food is rated by how local and organic it is, and whether animal products were from pasture-raised sources. It includes beverages, like beer, and a special section for food you can buy from your neighbors — like eggs from all those backyard chickens.

"We've already gotten lots of support from the community," LocalMotive's Elise Rothman says. "Poor Richard's, Brother Luck, Right to Thrive and the like have thanked us for creating a platform that will give momentum to the local food movement." — JAS

Pot tax revenue disappears

Despite the national headlines lauding the millions of dollars collected in marijuana taxes, if the world ended today, the state of Colorado would lose $58.7 million on, as Gov. John Hickenlooper likes to call it, the state's "experiment" with legal cannabis. This despite coming out of a year that saw roughly $699 million in related sales.

The reason: the Taypayer's Bill of Rights.

Here's how Forbes columnist Tony Nitti describes the situation: "Through a quirk in the TABOR, because the state's official voter guide for Proposition AA — the bill that blessed legalized marijuana — underestimated the total overall tax collections that would be made by Colorado in 2014, the bill of rights requires the new tax to be refunded, a requirement only imposed in the first full fiscal year of a new tax."

Right now, estimates on the amount to be refunded statewide range from $44 million to $60 million, with the actual amount to be calculated in March, when the state's fiscal year ends. However, a portion of the tax funds are guaranteed, through their inclusion in Amendment 64, to be given to the state's BEST grant program, which funds school construction needs.

This means that until legislative fixes are sought, Colorado will pay $31 million to BEST from its general fund. It must also account for $27.7 million of marijuana-tax money that's already been spent.

"In March we get the quarterly forecast we rely on for budgeting purposes," writes Sen. Pat Steadman, who serves on the Joint Budget Committee, in an email to the Indy. "The numbers will change. TABOR requires the use of actual dollars and not forecasts to calculate the refund, so those won't be known until after the fiscal year has ended. But for our purposes we budget to the numbers we have now while we're in session." — BC


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