Town hall discusses recharging Northern Colorado’s economy with shovel-ready jobs

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Environment Colorado

Greeley, CO – Congresswoman Betsy Markey joined more than a hundred local citizens with a coalition of agricultural, business and environmental groups at a town hall meeting to discuss the benefits of the recently signed federal stimulus bill for Colorado’s Fourth Congressional district.  The groups focused on the role of green and other shovel-ready jobs in recharging Colorado’s economy.

“I am happy to have been a part of today’s forum,” said U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Fort Collins). “These are uniquely difficult times in America, and we need unique partnerships to solve the challenges we face. Bringing together citizens with agricultural groups, conservationists, and transportation specialists is just the sort of constructive dialogue we need.”

There was agreement among the speakers that the recently signed stimulus bill presents an opportunity to rebuild Northern Colorado’s economy on a sound foundation of infrastructure investment and green jobs. According to White House estimates, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will create or save 59,000 well-paid jobs in Colorado and 3.5 million nationally over the next two years. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector.

The Act will create or preserve jobs in Colorado by providing support for investing in clean, efficient, homegrown power and modernizing energy transmission. In addition to supporting renewable energy infrastructure investments, the stimulus bill also provides funding support for research and development of renewable energy technologies, and modernizing and upgrading government buildings and vehicles.

“Clean energy is a clear win for Northern Colorado, and we applaud Congresswoman Markey for seeing that,” said Pam Kiely, legislative director at Environment Colorado. “The stimulus bill is a sensible, smart solution to getting economic recovery on track. This is really about the three Rs:  revitalizing the American dream and rebooting Colorado’s economy by repowering America with green economic recovery.”

According to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the economic recovery package will provide the following benefits for Colorado:

  • $49.1 million through the State Energy Program
  • $81.1 million through the Weatherization Assistance Program

“Agriculture and Northern Colorado have always been inextricably tied. Yesterday’s plowshares have given way to wind turbines and exciting advances in biofuels have breathed new life into our rural communities,” said Kent Peppler, President of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “While many challenges lie in the months ahead, we are proud to work with today’s coalition partners to bring issues important to Northern Colorado to our elected representatives.”

The three-hour event included three panels.  The first discussed renewable energy development and green jobs.  The other two panels highlighted the other key jobs creation component of the stimulus bill— increased funding for transit and transportation infrastructure. The panels focused on agricultural issues in transportation and transportation solutions for Northern Colorado. Speakers on those panels included Russ George, Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation; Byron Weathers of the Colorado Corn Growers; David Foy, a Washington County Commissioner; and Kent Peppler of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

Analysis of the stimulus bill estimated that Colorado would receive the following investment funding for transit and transportation:

  • $403.9 million in Highway Funding to be used on activities eligible under the Federal-aid Highway Program’s Surface Transportation Program and could also include rail and port infrastructure activities at the discretion of the states
  • $103.5 million in Transit Formula Funding for investments in mass transit

“Northern Colorado will lead Colorado out of this recession with its leadership today in the energy sector and transportation planning.  As a co-host of today’s town hall, it was an important opportunity to share with Congresswoman Markey the northern Colorado’s business community’s perspective on these important issues facing the region,” said Sandra Solin, Issues Manager, NCLA.