Economic Opportunity 

“The story of the West is the quintessential story of the American way. There's much entrepreneurship." - John Hickenlooper


A Cluster Industry Approach

The cluster industries we’ve targeted give groups of similar and related firms with the competitive advantage of the southern Front Range area that share common markets, technologies, worker skill needs, while still linked to the buyer-seller relationships of the Colorado Front Range.

Firms and workers in these targeted industries can draw competitive advantage from their proximity to growing competitors, skilled workforce, specialized suppliers, and a shared base of research driven knowledge within each growing segment.

"Clusters" illustrate why a place like Colorado matters in the global economy. Businesses thrive in particular locations because their network of local connections to a specially skilled local workforce and the availability of strong local suppliers in proximity to one another generates business advantages that can not easily be imitated or competed away by low cost competitors. 

The major step in crafting the southern Front Range region’s economic development strategy focuses on the types of industries to target for expansion and retention. Industry targets chosen are designed to meet varying community goals ranging from diversifying the economic base, to increasing the average wage, to utilizing natural and labor resources more fully. The community’s economic development efforts are focusing on industries in which the community has clear competitive advantages. Further, these target industries are economically, environmentally, and socially acceptable to the southern Front Range's heritage.

Southern Colorado Cluster Industries:

  • Agriculture & Tourism
  • Creative Industries
  • Energy & Natural Resources
  • Recreation & Tourism

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.

More information →




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.


Specialty Crops



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.”

Industrial Hemp

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.


Creative Industries


The creative industries are an economic force in Colorado as the interface between creativity, culture, economics, and technology in a contemporary world dominated by images, sounds, texts, and symbols increases. Today, Colorado is among the leading destinations for creative artists and entrepreneurs to develop and promote their craft or products.

Trinidad-Las Animas County is part of this larger trend in which forward-thinking former coal and manufacturing centers are recovering due mostly in part to a focus on the creative industries. Since 2012, Colorado has formed 21 creative districts which have on average seen a 5% increase in employment and a 6% jump in revenue, compared to the state’s average job growth of 2%. This is why right now is an exciting time to a part of the El Corazon de Trinidad Creative Arts District. 

A big contributor of the creative momentum is the Trinidad Artspace, a demonstration project for Space to Create, a state-led initiative to build affordable workforce housing and workspace in rural Colorado communities. The $14 million Trinidad Artspace project will transform an entire downtown block into artist live/work, gallery and flexible community space; it includes three historic structures, built between 1882 and 1903, that contribute to the downtown National Historic District. In the summer of 2017, funding for the project was secured and work has been begun. Expected completion of the Space to Create project in late 2018.

Creative Industries

  • Design
  • Film & Media
  • Literary & Publishing
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts & Crafts
  • Heritage

Film in Colorado 



The Colorado Film Incentive program offers a 20% cash rebate for eligible production costs. The incentive program covers feature films, television pilots, television series, television commercials, music videos, industrials, documentaries, and video game design and creation, as well as other forms of content creation.

Regional Film Partnerships

Promoting Colorado is a collaborative effort.  Through local tourism and visitors bureaus, economic development offices, and regional film offices we can better serve the film community.  Regional partnerships help us market the diversity of each region and identify local support services.

Film Festival Support and Promotion

The Colorado Film Office currently supports over 30 film festivals and educational events throughout each year.  We are here to help support existing events, both financially and promotionally, and identify new opportunities for communities.


  • Filmmaker Focus
  • Screenplay Review
  • Media Professionals Career Connection
  • Grants

Colorado Music Strategy


Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) and Bohemian Foundation announced a public-private partnership to advance music in Colorado through the Colorado Music Strategy, a comprehensive plan to support music as a key creative industry in the state.

The Colorado Music Strategy aims to increase revenues for Colorado-based musicians and music-related businesses while raising the state’s profile nationally and internationally. The strategy will provide resources and leadership for music projects, grants to nonprofits to present music, and opportunities for networking and thought-sharing at an annual music conference.

Strategy Elements

#DetourCo is a statewide program creating a model of music touring as a community-based, sustainable and creatively rewarding practice. Complete the following form with as much detail as possible and we will contact you when additional information is available.


The Colorado Film Office offers several types of continuing education and hands on experience for filmmakers, students, and anyone interested in film, television, digital media, and animation.  Through local partnerships, they offer workshops, panels, networking events, and intensive classes


Energy & Natural Resources


Coal & Methane


The history of Trinidad-Las Animas County is intrinsically tied to the mining industry, and in particular coal extraction from the Raton Basin. Although coal deposits have been developed since 1873, their use in the past few decades has been greatly reduced. This situation was exacerbated by the closing of steel plants that used the coal from the basin. Presently, coal mining is gradually being replaced by the development coalbed methane in the Vermejo and Raton Formations. Methane has been proven by operators, like Pioneer Natural Resources, to be a potential source of clean energy for the next few decades.


Renewable Energy 


Trinidad-Las Animas County sits at the forefront of renewable energy development. Colorado was the first state to approve a Renewable Energy Standard, which has helped drive the industry as a whole. There are over 400 companies in the state that employ approximately 6,000 Coloradans in the renewable energy industry, ranking it 7th in nation.

Breaking it down further, according to Solar Industries Association, Colorado ranks 9th in solar. Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Energy ranks Colorado 7th in wind power generation capacity installed, and 10th for total installed wind power capacity as of September 2015.

Additionally, Trinidad-Las Animas County also has significant biomass and geothermal production potential. Based on Colorado State Forest Service estimates, approximately 25% of Colorado’s 24 million acres of forest and ranch land have a high or moderate potential for future biomass production, with a typical yield in the Front Range of four to ten dry tons of biomass per acre per year.

When it comes to geothermal, the Raton Basin is a recognized hot basin at shallow depths, referred to as a thermal resource. Geothermal is an attractive alternative to fossil fuels as its potentially inexhaustible, clean, and offers 24/7 base load energy unlike solar and wind. Developing this renewable resource would also add power to local grids and help meet energy portfolio goals and develop carbon-free alternatives.

More information →


Spotlight: San Isabel Solar Project 


The San Isabel Solar Project, located approximately 20 miles north of Trinidad and 10 miles southeast of Aguilar. Energy company officials, regional business and government leaders and guests shared a memorable moment as the $50 million facility with 120,000 photovoltaic solar panels was formally opened on Friday, July 14.

The solar project was built by Juwi Inc, a Boulder-based developer, engineering, procurement and construction contract and operator of large scale renewable energy generation facilities. Ownership was transferred to Power Service Energy Group Solar Source, an independent power provider from New Jersey.

PSEG is selling the energy produced by the 30-megawatt to Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a nonprofit wholesale power supplier in Westminster, Colorado that serves 1.5 million consumers in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico through 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts.


Spotlight: Peak View Wind Project 


The 60 megawatt Peak View Wind project is located along the border between Huerfano and Las Animas counties. The project allowed Black Hills Energy to reduce the amount of natural gas it burns reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about $2.4 million tons. This has helped Colorado achieve compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan that aims to significantly reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, in the first 20 years of Peak View Wind’s operation, customers are expected to save over $37 million. The wind farm is has been operating late 2016.

Black Hills Energy is an electric and gas utility serving Pueblo and other southern Colorado communities. Black Hills Energy customers benefit from the Peak View Wind project in the form of improved air quality, reduced water usage, reduced health impacts, and the financial savings this wind energy. Plans are underway to expand the Peak View Wind project in western Las Animas County.


Spotlight: Pioneer Geothermal Research 


Starting in 2010, Pioneer Natural Resources began exploring the potential pros and cons of harvesting geothermal power in the Raton Basin, which has its sources as heat energy stored in the earth. The basin is a recognized hot basin at shallow depths – referred to as a thermal resource. Pioneer has investigated just how hot the basin is, how deep they have to drill to access the heat, and whether the rock at these depths is suitable for a geothermal project. The work done thus far focused on fact gathering in order to develop a detailed assessment of the physical and economic potential before moving forward with an actual project.

Geothermal is a very attractive alternative to fossil fuels as it is potentially inexhaustible, clean, and offers 24/7 base-load energy which other popular alternatives like solar and wind cannot. Developing this renewable resource would also add power to local grids and help meet energy portfolio goals and develop carbon-free alternatives. Pioneer has had a lot of support from the Governor’s Energy Office as well as the Colorado Geological Survey, with whom they worked closely on the preliminary evaluation phase. In an effort to further enhance the company’s base knowledge and help assess the Raton Basin potential, they also worked with the Colorado School of Mines and Southern Methodist University.

In 2017, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers in multiple disciplines paid a field visit to Pioneer Natural Resources as part of a new Technologist in Residence (TIR) program. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy established the TIR program in 2015 as part of its Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative to foster more high-impact collaborative research and development between the nation’s science laboratories and private industry.


Recreation & Tourism


Outdoor Recreation 


Outdoor recreation is a big deal when it comes to the overall economy of Colorado. The numbers speak for themselves. 7,800 outdoor recreation firms call the state home, which employ 177,700 employees, and generate $6 billion in revenue. This is because 90% of Coloradans participate in outdoor recreation activities, and the state is number one in the nation in overnight ski visits, and number 8 in overnight outdoor visits. Trinidad-Las Animas County seeks to capitalize on these trends and help the state continue to grow as an outdoor recreation industry destination to do business.

Along with southern Colorado’s great climate, there’s the proximity of I-25 to take advantage of when considering where to relocate or start up an outdoor recreation business. Based on Colorado Department of Transportation statistics, there are 15,000 cars traveling through the county on average per day, which is approximately 5.5 million per year. Trinidad is the second busiest port of entry in Colorado. The area is the first and last stop of visitors making their way into Colorado for a host of outdoor recreational activities.

Not only does Trinidad-Las Animas County have a tourist base to build around, the area is expanding its open space and business environment to attract outdoor recreation industry players. In July of 2017, Trinidad was one of two communities accepted into the Blueprint 2.0 Grow Your Outdoor Recreation Industry initiative. Along with state resources, the Trinidad Industrial Park and La Puerta development are building suitable sites for businesses interested in relocating or starting up in southern Colorado. Trinidad-Las Animas County is a great place for outdoor recreation firms to consider as a live, work, and play destination.

Outdoor Recreation Industry Opportunities

  • Camping (RV, Tent, Rustic Lodging)
  • Fishing (Fly, Non-Fly)
  • Hunting (Shotgun, Rifle, Bow)
  • Motorcycling (On-Road, Off-Road)
  • Off Roading (ATV, 4x4 and Jeep)
  • Snowsports (Cross-Country, Nordic Skiing, Snowshoeing, Backcountry Skiing/Snowboarding)
  • Trail Sports (Day Hiking, Backpacking, Horseback Riding, Mountaineering)
  • Water Sports (Kayaking, Rafting, Canoeing, Sailing, Stand Up Paddling, Boating: Wakeboarding, Tubing, Kneeboarding, Waterskiing)
  • Wheel Sports (Bicycling off-road: Mountain Bike, Gravel Adventure)
  • Wildlife Viewing

Distance to Ski Areas


  • Cuchara Mountain Park: 65 miles 1 hr 15 min
  • Monarch Ski Area: 168 miles 3 hrs
  • Silverton Mountain Resort 307 miles 5 hrs 45 min
  • Wolf Creek Ski Area: 175 miles 3 hrs

New Mexico

  • Angel Fire Ski Resort: 98 miles 1 hr 50 min
  • Red River Ski Resort: 104 miles 2 hrs  
  • Sipapu Ski Resort: 159 miles 2 hrs 45 min
  • Taos Ski Valley: 136 miles 2 hrs 50 min

Events & Sports Tourism


An industry opportunity in Trinidad-Las Animas County are events, and travel associated with sports or physical activities. Sport vacations can take many forms including: sport camps, sport conferences, sport races, sport tours, attendance at hallmark events, and participation in “club” sport events. Sport tourism is broadly defined as “travel to participate in a sport activity, travel to observe sport, and travel to visit a sport attraction”. An example of the growth in endurance sport events business is sponsorship spend, which according to the US-based IEG Sponsorship, reached $118.8 million in 2015 - an increase of 4.6 per cent from 2015.

Some of the contributing factors to the growth of sport tourism include: expansion in the number of participants in a variety of professional, intramural, and leisure sport leagues; the increased general popularity of sports; an increase of travelers who plan vacations around sport events; and the exponential growth of popularity in “active lifestyles”. Sport tourists differ from other types of tourists in terms of their motives for visiting a destination and the sport-related activities they engage in during their visit.

Trinidad-Las Animas County has the ingredients necessary to create a destination image that is favorable to outdoor sport tourist segments. We believe the southern Colorado region is a desirable location that sport tourists will want to visit. Event planners and promoters who understand the areas outdoor attributes can help attract and grow the sports tourism market. By promoting existing events it will encourage more events to be hosted in Trinidad-Las Animas County, which in turn will draw more sport tourists to the area.