Big in­cen­tive pack­age OK’d

State ap­proves $34.4M in job growth tax cred­its for un­named tele­com com­pany.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Em­i­lie Rusch

Colorado’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion ap­proved its largest in­cen­tive pack­age in re­cent years in hopes of get­ting one of the coun­try’s top ca­ble op­er­a­tors to cre­ate 1,200 high-pay­ing jobs in the Den­ver metro area.

Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously Thurs­day to ap­prove $34.4 mil­lion in per­for­mance-based job growth in­cen­tive tax cred­its for the un­named East Coast-based telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany.

The com­pany, us­ing the code name Project Cop­per, is look­ing to con­sol­i­date its net­work oper­a­tions per­son­nel in one of­fice in metro Den­ver or the greater St. Louis area, state of­fi­cials said. The jobs would pay an av­er­age of $98,250 a year.

“The pipe­line for tal­ent in this com­mu­nity is in­cred­i­bly high, and it would be a nat­u­ral re­for­ti­fi­ca­tion of an in­dus­try that has a lot of her­itage here and is on a growth path,” said Stephanie Copeland, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Colorado Of­fice of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and In­ter­na­tional Trade.

And while state of­fi­cials did not iden­tify the com­pany by name, the ca­ble op­er­a­tor has a pres­ence in the Den­ver area.

One vi­able can­di­date is Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, which is based in Stam­ford, Conn., and em­ploys 90,000 work­ers na­tion­wide — the same num­ber used by state of­fi­cials. That in­cludes more than 2,800 em­ploy­ees in Colorado, as of De­cem­ber.

Char­ter an­nounced plans last fall to lease an en­tire 12story of­fice tower now un­der con­struc­tion near Fid­dler’s Green Am­phithe­atre in Green­wood Vil­lage.

The pub­licly traded com­pany — in which John Malone’s Lib­erty Me­dia owns a stake — also has a sub­stan­tial pres­ence in St. Louis, the other metro area un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for the jobs.

A Char­ter spokesman on Thurs­day de­clined to com­ment on the tax cred­its.

“The Den­ver area is a ter­rific source of the highly skilled tech­ni­cal work­force we al­ready have and are ex­pand­ing,” spokesman Bret Pic­ci­olo said in an e-mail. “Through our in­vest­ment in and long-term com­mit­ment to the area, we’re hop­ing to make Char­ter even more of a des­ti­na­tion for the area’s top tech­ni­cal tal­ent.”

Project Cop­per will re­ceive the state tax cred­its only if it cre­ates and main­tains the pro­posed jobs in Colorado. The pop­u­lar eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in­cen­tive comes in the form of a 50 per­cent re­bate on pay­roll taxes paid dur­ing an eightyear win­dow.

To be eligible, busi­nesses must cre­ate at least 20 new jobs in the state with an av­er­age an­nual wage at least equal to its Colorado county’s av­er­age rate.

The $34.4 mil­lion in tax cred­its that Project Cop­per could re­ceive is the largest amount the state com­mis­sion has au­tho­rized in at least three years, a state spokes­woman said.

The com­mis­sion also ap­proved two smaller in­cen­tives Thurs­day.

Project Husker, a busi­ness-to-busi­ness fran­chisor of print and mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion cen­ters, was ap­proved for $1.02 mil­lion in job growth in­cen­tive tax cred­its in re­turn for bring­ing 55 head­quar­ters jobs with an av­er­age salary of $89,091 to Den­ver or Ara­pa­hoe coun­ties.

Project 5767, a Mon­tre­al­based biotech com­pany, will re­ceive $1.3 mil­lion in tax cred­its if it cre­ates 105 jobs at an an­nual wage of $84,133 in the Den­ver metro area.

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