I recently talked with Sara Blackhurst and Brian McCain, Action 22’s CEO and COO, about Pueblo, CO and why it’s a great place to invest. While Action 22 focuses on southern Colorado generally, they are very active in Pueblo.
Action 22 is a member-driven organization that serves 22 counties in southern Colorado. Their work focuses on the intersection of local government affairs, economic development, natural resources, health, and education. Their goal is to influence some of the policy decisions made by local governments so that all members of the community prosper.
- Listen to the podcast “#58: Public Policy and Economic Initiatives to Boost Pueblo Investors” on the Colorado Springs Real Estate Investing Podcast
- Watch the YouTube video (at the bottom.)
- Read the blog post. Note, the blog is an executive summary. Get the in-depth breakdown from the podcast or video.
How do you dispel the notion that Pueblo is a “mysterious” city?
Brian says that Pueblo is on the cusp of becoming something bigger and greater; it’s never been where it’s at now in recent history. He encourages people to take some time and see the beauty that is Pueblo, a city rich in culture and community, from the Riverwalk to the reservoir.
Sara says she hears this all the time. Many people don’t realize that there’s a nice downtown area that’s in the process of being built up. She encourages people to go to the city and explore the Riverwalk and downtown. You’ll find something you wouldn’t expect.
Pueblo has every opportunity available and when you look at it on paper, it’s hard to understand why it hasn’t exploded yet. The best thing an investor can do is get involved in the community in a hurry.
What natural resources does Pueblo have that are helpful for development?
Unlike many areas in Colorado, Pueblo has an abundance of water. Currently, there are about 170K people in the county, but it has enough water for a population of just under half a million. This makes Pueblo a great place for new builds.
In fact, new builds are so popular in this area that builders and construction crews can’t keep up with the demand. Most new development is sold within a day or two of going to market. Being in such a great position on water is a main factor.
What are some new public policies in Pueblo that will benefit investors?
The local government in Pueblo is doing everything they can to bring in more investors because there’s currently a housing shortage. One of the ideas in the works is a vacant property tax for both residential and commercial properties. At one time, 7% of all housing in Pueblo was vacant. The city created a vacant house registry and the police department started fining property owners whose houses were in disrepair. This tax would benefit investors, since property owners who don’t want to pay the tax will look to sell their properties.
Pueblo is transitioning to become the most business-friendly town in the state. The government is cutting red tape and creating up a one-stop shop for setting up a business. Instead of having to go to different entities for permits and approvals, business owners can get everything they need all at once. They’re also in the process of shifting everything online so you can start your business in Pueblo from anywhere in the world.
What attracts businesses to Pueblo?
Pueblo has PEDCO, Pueblo Economic Development Corp., which is funded by a continually renewed half cent sales tax. It helps set up businesses and incentivizes them for staying in the area for a certain number of years and hiring a specific amount of local residents. PEDCO offers tax incentives for buying property and helps pay for it
The city is also offering incentives to energy companies. Pueblo is in a constant fight when it comes to energy, and the nearby power plant employs many local people. When that plant shuts down, employees could lose their jobs, which offers a huge workforce for another company.
What kind of industries is Pueblo looking to attract?
Traditionally, Pueblo focused on industrial entities, such as aerospace, AC manufacturing, and a cement plant. There has been a lot of recent interest from aerospace and technological industries because the infrastructure is already in place and there’s plenty of land available to build on.
While bringing in manufacturing is still a priority, there’s a larger focus toward small businesses, too. There are a lot of empty buildings downtown and they want to attract mom-and-pop businesses, such as art galleries and tourist attractions. Pueblo recently got its first cheese shop downtown!
How much spillover is there from the tech industry in Colorado Springs?
There’s a lot of spillover because Pueblo is nearby and has the infrastructure to support these businesses. The chemical depot is closing down in the next 5 years, which is generating a lot of interest from aerospace companies. The set up of the land and facilities perfectly supports that type of business.
How is the housing shortage affecting Pueblo’s development?
Energy development would be further along if not for the housing shortage. There is simply not enough workforce housing. While Pueblo is generally an affordable place to live, it’s more expensive than it used to be.
What are some of the revitalization projects happening in Pueblo?
Watertower Place is a great example of a successful revitalization project. It’s a historic building that was originally the first meat packing plant west of the Mississippi. It survived a big flood 100 years ago and has a lot of great history. The owner acquired the building 3 years ago, and now it’s a facility that promotes a great culture of collaboration, prosperity and positive thinking.
The Holmes Hardware building is under development, and they plan on having it up and running within 3 years. It will have a food hall on the first floor as a restaurant incubator and affordable apartments above it. These developers are breaking the mold for how to get things done.
What would you say to investors who are intrigued by Pueblo?
Brian says that compared to the rest of the state, Pueblo is probably your best bet right now. It’s on the cusp of becoming something larger and special, which won’t happen without investors. Get ahead now before it’s too late. He says to look at the developers around Colorado Springs who are moving from there to Pueblo.
Sara reminds people that you can’t wait until you feel 100% comfortable or you’ll miss the opportunity. The way you succeed as an investor is to take a calculated risk.
How can I learn more about what’s happening in Pueblo?
Sara and Brian host a podcast about Pueblo called Making Action Happen, which is available on all major podcasting platforms.
Connect with Us
If you want to learn more about investing in Pueblo, reach out to us. We’re currently helping investors purchase properties down there and are expanding down there next year.