Governor Jared Polis, Department of Local Affairs, Office of Recovery, and Senators Bennet & Hickenlooper Announce Support for Local Governments
DENVER — Today, Governor Polis, in partnership with the Department of Local Affairs and Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, announced the creation and funding of 14 Regional Grant Navigator (RGN) positions within Colorado’s designated Planning and Management Regions. These positions will aid local governments in their pursuit of funds from the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in November of 2021, which will invest a historic $550 billion in new infrastructure investments nationwide over the next five years.
“This is a transformative opportunity and we want every corner of Colorado to be able to maximize their ability to receive funding from this legislation. We are excited to partner with local governments and provide support so that Colorado can draw more from this legislation to fix our roads, invest in protecting our water supply, defend against climate change, and develop Front Range Rail,” said Governor Jared Polis.
Local governments identify “lack of capacity” as one of the greatest challenges in pursuing funding opportunities. While Colorado took swift action by passing SB22-215 which established the IIJA Cash Fund, and transferred $80.25 million of General Fund to the Cash Fund, Regional Grant Navigators will be the on-the-ground help that is needed.
“County governments provide vital services and programs, and Colorado Counties Inc. is pleased that this effort will boost their ability to do what they do best: serve Coloradans,” said John Swartout, Executive Director, Colorado Counties, Inc. “This is an opportunity for county governments to share their expertise across all levels of government.”
“Municipalities are in the front lines when it comes to responding to the needs of residents and businesses, and they plan far in advance for their infrastructure needs,” said Kevin Bommer, Colorado Municipal League executive director. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was a shot in the arm to kick start many projects, and the support of Sens. Bennet and Hickenlooper and Gov. Polis for the RGN positions will ensure all municipalities have a chance to improve their communities.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is the largest investment in American infrastructure in a generation, and collaboration at every level of government will be critical to Colorado’s successful use of these funds,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “This program is an important step to ensure our local governments have the capacity to access the law’s historic funding and can use it to improve our roads and bridges, deliver for our kids and families, confront climate change, and protect our Western forests and watersheds.”
“We passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for all of Colorado. Everywhere from the big cities to the smallest towns will benefit from these funds, and these grant navigators will help rural Colorado get its fair share,” said Senator John Hickenlooper.
RGNs working within their regional organization will be familiar with regional and local plans, objectives, and strategies to understand what grant opportunities are most relevant, prioritizing outreach to rural and underserved communities. This includes research into grant opportunities as well as facilitating technical support, which may include connecting communities to relevant grant writing experts. RGNs will follow the progress of all grant submissions and provide technical assistance ongoing monitoring and compliance as needed in the different regions.
“This funding allows each region to dedicate a person whose entire job is to meet communities where they are at,” said Laura Lewis Marchino, Executive Director of Region 9 Economic Development District, and the Chair of the Colorado Association of Regional Organizations (CARO). “Each of our regions have communities that have a long list of priority infrastructure projects, from broadband to water and sewer, but many lack the capacity needed to explore and then pursue funding opportunities. We appreciate our State looking to regional organizations to help the Colorado communities in which we work. This is a hallmark example of cooperation between Federal, State, and local governments, and without a doubt will result in more funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law coming into our State and meeting much documented needs.”
“Working together and in tandem with Colorado communities is one of the Department of Local Affairs' primary objectives,” said Rick Garcia, Executive Director of the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides critical contributions that will enhance the lives of Coloradans and set the state and its communities, rural to urban, up for prosperity. We look forward to continuing to strengthen Colorado communities.”
These efforts are part of a robust, collaborative effort to ensure that Colorado draws down up to $7 billion in funding. Governor Polis was one of the first governors in the country to support the bipartisan federal infrastructure framework advocated by Senators Bennet & Hickenlooper which builds on the historic, bipartisan transportation package Governor Polis signed in 2021.