Agriculture & Tourism
Agricultural Research & Technology
Colorado's Front Range has quickly emerged as a destination for AgTech. It has become a leader in the field due to its combination of quality of life and farming and ranching heritage. The state is a hub for tech startups and companies, attracting talent who can apply their knowledge and skills to innovate. The patenting of new technologies in irrigation, food science, and plant genetics are examples of where Colorado leads. A result of record number of research articles in agricultural science being published in recent years.
Trinidad-Las Animas County is poised to play an influential role in the expansion of the AgTech industry along the southern Front Range. An AgTech cluster can initiate the creation of high paying jobs that are long lived, while remaining true to the region’s cultural heritage. Southern Colorado can enhance the state AgTech industry via science and cooperation. Through state institutions, like CSU Extension, plus entrepreneurs, minus regulation, multiplied by quality of life factors, Trinidad-Las Animas County is positioned to attract and retain world class management and scientific talent.
Agritourism is growing at a significant pace within the Colorado Tourism industry and offers entrepreneurs with a wealth of possibilities along the southern Front Range. As more visitors discover Trinidad-Las Animas County, the visitors desire to see, experience, and participate in farm and ranch activities creates a demand. Food tourist-related businesses, including breweries, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and tour companies represent the new frontier business in southern Colorado.
Today, there exists an opportunity to expand the CSA food production and tourism industries and create new products that attract and retain entrepreneurs and existing state agricultural companies. More tourists requires a host of ancillary businesses and support services. With a rich history of farming and ranching, Trinidad-Las Animas County is a great place for food entrepreneurs to bring their creative energy and imagination.
Specialty Food & Beverage
Processing the region’s agricultural production represents an area of opportunity for entrepreneurs and established food and beverage companies looking to expand. Ideally situated between several major markets, Trinidad-Las Animas County has the farm and land to offer businesses the chance to harvest existing crops, like beer producing grains, to meet the growing demand for organic or local products, which continue to grow with consumer demand in and outside Colorado.
Like many communities in Colorado, Trinidad has greatly benefited from the economic growth due to the cannabis industry. It has helped revitalize a part of the state that has experienced an economic decline, with the reduction of the mining industry. Retail marijuana sales through November 30, 2016 were $18.7 million versus $8.564 million in all of 2015. These sales generated almost $2 million in total tax revenue. A positive economic contribution from the industry is expected to continue for the next couple of years.
Legal marijuana demand is projected to grow by 11.3 percent per year through 2020. This growth is driven by a demand shift away from the black market and by cannabis-specific visitor demand. By 2020, the regulated market in Colorado will become saturated. As a first-mover in legal marijuana, the Front Range has witnessed significant business formation and Industry agglomeration in marijuana technology (cultivation, sales, manufacturing, and testing). This has inspired a moniker for Colorado’s Front Range as the “Silicon Valley of Cannabis.”
A 2014 U.S. Farm Bill that legalized the growth of industrial hemp represents a potential economic boon for agricultural entrepreneurs in Trinidad-Las Animas County. Additionally, in 2016, Las Animas County won approval from the Colorado Economic Development Commission to join the state’s Rural Jump-Start Program under the intent of developing an industrial hemp industry.
Industrial hemp is an agricultural crop championed as multifaceted and sustainable. Defined as Cannabis sativa L. plants with less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinols concentration, or THC, hemp requires less water than corn and can be used to produce cannabidiol (CBD) oil, a nonpsychoactive cannabis compound used for medicinal purposes, and grain for a wide range of commercial items, including food and health products. And its industrial potential is far more wide-ranging: hemp is so strong and lightweight that the auto industry is using it for car parts. It can also be used as construction material in homes, and researchers speculate that hemp biodiesel could one day be used as fuel.
According to Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado-grown hemp makes up more than half of U.S. domestic hemp production, and interest in the crop has grown significantly since it became legal. This year, farms around the state are expected to harvest up to 9,000 acres of hemp, compared with just 200 acres in 2014. The harvest yielded 5,900 acres last year and 2,200 acres in 2015.