• Published
  • On January 24, 2019

TELLURIDE, Colo. (Jan. 24, 2019) – The Telluride Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life in western Colorado, has launched a dynamic data portal and mapping tool to unlock a new era of economic vitality in the State’s rural communities. Stretching from the Gunnison National Forest west to the Utah border, Montrose County is home to three Opportunity Zones—economically-distressed census tracts certified by the U.S. Department of Treasury in which certain types of investments are eligible for preferential tax treatment. With the new online tool, BuildingBlocks, the Telluride Foundation aims to leverage the benefits of investing in these Zones by identifying high-potential development opportunities based on sophisticated analysis of multiple data sources.

“Private investment drives community and economic development locally. Investment decisions are based on accurate and timely data. We think BuildingBlocks will be a tremendous tool for communities to promote their opportunities that will attract entrepreneurs and investors” said Paul Major, Telluride Foundation President and CEO.

BuildingBlocks brings together a diverse set of data from federal and state sources that helps uncover hidden redevelopment potential throughout rural Colorado. The map-based portal aggregates data on every single parcel of land in Montrose County, including land value, zoning, renewable energy potential, business activity, water rights, ownership, and more.

“With these insights, we can look for areas that are primed for new forms of development and hold potential return on investment for investors. It’s pivotal that we help kick-start the transition of rural economies towards future economic growth,” said Major.

Montrose County encompasses large swaths of public lands, in addition to the communities of Nucla, Naturita, Montrose, and Olathe. In the 1980’s, the extraction industry that drove the region’s economy began to slow, starting with the exodus of a large number of uranium jobs. The downturn continued over the next few decades, with the New Horizon Coal mine closing in 2017, and the Tri-State Power Plant scheduled to close in 2022. BuildingBlocks is part of the Telluride Foundation’s effort to shepherd in a new era of economic development, and Major is positioning Montrose County to benefit from the potentially-catalytic investments that Opportunity Zones promise.

“Even a well-funded organization like ours doesn’t have the resources to sift through all this data and make sense of it all. BuildingBlocks puts us at a real advantage in terms of identifying where there’s potential, leveraging the assets that already existing in our communities, and proactively presenting opportunities to investors.”

The Telluride Foundation is committed to enriching the quality of life of the residents and workforce of the Telluride region. It is a nonprofit, apolitical public community foundation that makes grants and runs programs in arts, education, health and human services, community development, and social enterprise. The Foundation strives to achieve excellence for the community through its mission and core values, including promoting inclusion and maximizing benefit to all. The Foundation’s work is funded through the generous support of hundreds of donors as well as grants from state and national foundations. Paul Major is the recent recipient of the 2018 Colorado Governor’s Citizenship Medal for Growth and Innovation for his work with the Foundation. Please visit www.telluridefoundation.org.
BuildingBlocks is a product of Tolemi, a Boston-based civic technology company. Tolemi has a strong record of partnering with leading national non-profits, including Local Initiatives Support Coalition and Enterprise Community partners. According to Tolemi Founder and CEO Andrew Kieve, “We are excited at the potential to help the Telluride Foundation foster economic development in western Colorado. Opportunity Zones offer such promise, but all too often rural communities get overlooked.” For more on how Tolemi is helping cities turn data into action visit https://www.tolemi.com/.