There are two forms of business expansion, according to Chris Markuson, the director of economic development for Pueblo County. The one the county really emphasizes, he said, is taking established businesses and helping them expand to bigger markets.

Pueblo County will work with locally-based businesses to expand the sale of their products or services to outside markets in Colorado and beyond.

“Say you have a small retail business in Pueblo or Pueblo West we work with them to sell their products or services to the Springs or Denver or anywhere in the country and in doing that it expands the potential for their market and product,” Markuson said. “We actually help them strategically target different consumers and population areas.”

Providing businesses that type of help costs the county little money, Markuson said, “but it’s really beneficial to those businesses and the primary creator of new jobs.”

The county economic development office has helped several businesses grow, he said, including downtown’s Solar Roast Coffee.

“They decided to start roasting their coffee using solar technology that they developed and made a name for themselves in Pueblo,” Markuson said. “We helped them with data and understanding their markets across the country and now they ship their products to all 50 states. That is by far the majority of their business — wholesale coffee.”

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The Pueblo Chieftain reported there were about 72,082 full- and part-time employed workers in April of this year, an increase of 271 from the prior month and up about 600 from 2017. The local labor force was 75,027, which was an increase of 728 from the previous year.

Markuson said taking a local retail establishment and helping them to sale their product nationwide turns them into a primary economic engine for the county.

“And it’s the whole intent of economic development,” he said.

Markuson said the second form of economic development the county is focusing on is bringing in new businesses from outside communities.

“Pueblo County as a whole has multiple areas where different types of businesses are going to be more successful than others — and that’s a neat thing from an economic development perspective, because we have a lot of different types of businesses that are doing really neat things and selling products across the country,” he said. “That’s what brings the economic livelihood up for the entire county.”

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. Chris Markuson is director of economic development for Pueblo County, not the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation.