Polis, Primavera visit Tribe, ICL and Ignacio School District

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera paid a visit to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation on Tuesday, Aug. 20, which included a trip to Ms. Pepper’s Kindergarten Class; Polis makes his exit by way of a small door designed for the young students.
Polis met with the Southern Ute Tribal Council for a tour of the Oxford Solar Plant, followed by a visit to the Ignacio School District, where he toured the Ignacio Elementary School classrooms and met with teachers.
Members of Southern Ute Tribal Council stand alongside Roger Zalneraitis, Economic Development Manager for the Southern Ute Tribe and Loretta Velasquez, Small Business Specialist with the Southern Ute Tribe during the RTAP awards presentation at the Ignacio Community Library, Tuesday, Aug. 20.
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

Community nets multiple RTAP awards

With a packed agenda for Southwest Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis and Lt. Gov. Dianna Primavera made their way to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation Tuesday, Aug. 20. The delegation met with Tribal leadership for a tour of the Oxford Solar Plant that morning, followed by a visit to the Ignacio School District, finishing up downtown at the Ignacio Community Library (ICL) where the 2020 Rural Technical Assistance Program awards were announced for the Southwest region of Colorado.

During a visit to the Ignacio Elementary School, which included a tour of the new teacher housing, Polis emphasized his administration’s commitment to renewable energy and early childhood education, lauding the District’s efforts to support the Ignacio Early Learning Program under SoCoCAA.











“[Our administration] is focused on concurrent enrollment, we’re really perusing that,” Polis emphasized on the topic of higher education.

The Governor gave a welcome address at the Ignacio Community Library, where major players in local government and economic development had gathered for the announcement of the Rural Technical Assistance Program (RTAP) awards. Polis emphasized the state’s focus on rural broadband, small business, agriculture and the outdoor recreation industry. “Very excited to see the Southern Ute Indian Tribe supporting outdoor recreation,” Polis stated.

RTAP awardees for 2020 were presented by the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) Executive Director, Betsy Markey and Colorado SBDC Executive Director, Mary Shepard. The local awardees included: The Southern Ute Indian Tribe as a Certified Small Business Community, Town of Ignacio as a Creativity Lab, and Town of Ignacio for Community Placemaking.

OEDIT works with partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth across the state of Colorado. The RTAP program was launched as a way to serve rural communities’ economic needs around the state and identify opportunities to leverage the state’s resources.

Loretta Velasquez, Small Business Specialist for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, spearheaded the grant process which earned the Tribe their RTAP certification. “That is what this grant was for, to launch a co-work space, which is a component of the Innovation Center,” Velasquez stated. “This is not just for Southern Ute tribal members, it is a community project — open to all, with the purpose of benefitting local business and growth.” While the main office will exist within the reservation boundaries, a partnership with Fort Lewis College will allow for a satellite office in Durango, Colo.











Velasquez is currently working towards the development of the new center, and is encouraging input from the membership as to what would benefit their needs — the focus is self-sustainability and financial independence. “[The Tribe] becoming a Certified Small Business Community was an important step. It got the attention of the Governor — that type of state recognition will help our community evolve,” added Velasquez. “Being an entrepreneur is taking control of your own future.”








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