San Luis Valley

The economy of the SLV is in large part driven by agriculture, and the median household income in the area is one of the lowest in the state. In recent years this already distressed region which is dependent on agriculture has been faced with water shortages and the challenge of changing how much they irrigate, adding additional risk to their agricultural industry.  COVID events hit some agricultural sectors particularly hard, so diversifying and adding value to the agriculture that persists is more timely than ever for the region.


Assess enterprise opportunities for the San Luis Valley with a focus on heritage industries


Coordinate and facilitate 2-3 community discussions about emerging economic opportunities (Hemp, Gig economy, Value-added food manufacturing, tourism) 



Recruit, coordinate, and conduct SLV focus groups on how New Market Innovations and the On-Demand economy are transforming local product and service markets in 2 locations


SLV Economic Growth through Economic Gardening                  


Frame at least 2-3 community investment alternatives of interest to key community stakeholders (investors, producers, entrepreneurs, economic development practitioners)  


Compile feedback from community discussions and market intelligence on relevant markets, findings on projects in peer regions and regional economic priorities


Explore the economic implications and alternatives given changing water policies and water/land conservation efforts


Given evolving water and land management policies, provide production and economic tradeoff alternatives to keep the ag sector and surrounding communities viable under significantly reduced water flows


Frame investment alternatives with tradeoffs focused on economic, water (and other natural resource), social and political tradeoffs among alternatives


Build Capacity among entrepreneurs to increase pace of Economic Gardening    


Utilize feedback from community discussions to develop community-specific workshops. Support new and existing ventures aligned with regional goals 



Analyze feedback from community discussion to develop workshops. Host interactive workshops to develop entrepreneurial thinking and skillsets among local leaders

San Luis Valley Community Food Assessment

The San Luis Valley conducted a community food assessment this year but did not have enough budget or human resources on their team to thoroughly collect and analyze the data needed to form the community food assessment. We were able to not only serve on the steering committee for this process, but also assist them with the community discussions and theme analysis of the data. The purpose of this project was to explore the impact of the food system on health, economic opportunity, and quality of life for the region. In addition, the project allowed them to discover potential projects and priorities for the region. A goal of this project was to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in the food system and to assist in strategic planning such as the creation of an emergency food plan, identify economic opportunities and gaps as well as collect and summarize relevant secondary data. The final report for this project is available at the icon link above.

Tradeoffs of Soil Carbon Solutions

Water and conservation issues are at the front of mind in the SLV region and a variety of conservation options will be important to solving problems going forward. Climate smart grants are being awarded across the state and CSU is involved in four of these projects. This research will help the SLV compare different conservation options available to them. In the project we explore how farmers will adopt climate smart or conservation practices and how these conservation payments might affect the regional economy (with a specific focus on the SLV region or Colorado). This research project resulted in a Master’s Technical Paper by David Rice entitled, “Tradeoffs across Proposed Soil Carbon Solutions, Implications for Water Use”.

Fishers Peak State Park: Evaluating a New Natural Amenity in Southern Colorado

Skyler Schuck and Josh Rudd
REDI Report – December 2021

Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference (SRMAC)

Organizers of the Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference (SRMAC) reached out to us to help them understand the economic impacts of this important event on the community of Monte Vista as well as the larger region. They are also interested in understanding how the community can increase the economic impacts that the community retains from this event. We conducted an economic impact analysis, produced a white paper and made several presentations in the community to the San Luis Valley Commissioners as well as the Monte Vista Chamber of Commerce.

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