The Southern Colorado Economic Development District (SCEDD) was formally established on February 16, 1968. In addition to the current region, the counties of the San Luis Valley were originally included in the district and represented all of the counties in southern Colorado that met the eligibility requirements to be designated as “Redevelopment Areas”. In 1980, the counties of Costilla, Conejos, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Saguache and Mineral formed the San Luis Valley Regional Development and Planning Commission. SCEDD’s boundaries remained unchanged for nearly thirty years until 2007 when Huerfano County withdrew from the District.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) was created under the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 which, with amendments, remains the basic authorizing legislation for the agency today. The mission of EDA is “to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.”
EDA established Economic Development Districts (EDDs) all across the nation, including the district represented by SCEDD. These Districts serve as the framework for maintaining a current Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for their service areas, and to provide staff support and technical assistance to the member counties. EDA provides support through “Planning Grants”, which are a major source of funding for SCEDD.
In order for a county to receive funding from EDA it must meet certain criteria. First, it must either have an unemployment rate at least one percent above the national average, or a per capita income of less than 80 percent of the national average. Second, it must have a current Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) on file with the EDA. The District CEDS is maintained to meet this second criterion, which relieves the counties of the need to perform this arduous task.
Nearly forty years later, the most basic function of SCEDD remains unchanged. The agency’s staff and Board of Directors are still responsible for maintaining an up to date CEDS and the eligibility of counties for funding assistance from EDA. Over the years, the directors of SCEDD have changed the panoply of services that SCEDD provides to member counties and will continue to refine its services as needs and opportunities arise.