Creating jobs in Jefferson County was the focus when Congresswoman Diana DeGette met with Jeffco officials last Friday.
DeGette, a Democrat who represents Colorado's Denver-dominated 1st District, was told that businesses need clear signals from the federal government on everything from tax policy to fracking regulations.
The forum, hosted by the Jeffco Economic Development Corp., let DeGette meet with the business community in a part of her district that was added in 2011's redistricting.
Several stakeholders in the Jeffco EDC told DeGette that creating jobs will be difficult without a rewrite of the federal tax code. A representative of Terumo BCT, a global medical manufacturing company that employs about 2,000 people at its Lakewood facility, told DeGette his company built a plant in Southeast Asia because of a more favorable tax climate.
Under the Affordable Care Act, medical manufacturers pay a tax on each device they make, even if it is shipped out of the country, like a majority of Terumo’s products. The representative said the company wanted to keep the jobs in Jeffco, but it didn't make business sense.
County Commissioner Don Rosier, who attended the roundtable, said action by the federal government on that type of issue is crucial to spurring economic growth.
“That huge uncertainty for the future is killing a recovery,” Rosier said. “Having certainty in taxation and regulation is so important. If I know in five years what my tax burden or what the business environment will be, I’ll make an investment. But if things change every six months, I’m not going to make that investment.”
Rod Osborn, director of community relations for Xcel Energy and chair of the Jeffco EDC’s board, led the roundtable discussion. He said Xcel, like many businesses in the area, needs clarity on fracking policies and renewable-energy tax credits.
“It’s extremely important for us to have clarity on those tax credits,” Osborn said. “Without (it), we don’t know how to plan for the future and where to invest.”
DeGette said she supports hydraulic fracturing but is working on a bill that would require operations to comply with provisions of the Clean Water Act. She also said business leaders need to be in constant contact with their elected officials to urge them to grapple with issues such as tax reform.