When the Southern Colorado Economic Development District (SCEDD) was formally established on February 16, 1968, the district included the current region, along with the counties of the San Luis Valley. In 1980, the counties of Costilla, Conejos, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Saguache and Mineral formed the San Luis Valley Regional Development and Planning Commission. So today, the District includes thirteen southern Colorado counties – Baca, Bent, Chaffee, Crowley, Custer, Fremont, Huerfano, Kiowa, Lake, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, and Pueblo.
The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 established the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). 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, in accordance with the Act, 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. SCEDD partners with counties to develop County CEDS, and synthesizes the 13 county CEDS into one regional CEDS.
More than 50 years since its founding, 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, ensuring eligibility of member counties to apply for EDA funding assistance.
SCEDD provides a number of other services for its member counties, in response to the ever-changing needs and opportunities of the southern Colorado region.