Colorado’s third-largest county is emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic with a new public health department, a historic and long-awaited relationship with the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and a focus on economic development. County officials shared these accomplishments as part of its inaugural State of the County address on June 29.
Concurrent with the event, the County released its 2021 Annual Report, highlighting how the County has continued to deliver efficient, innovative, and cost-effective services to area residents and businesses amid the pandemic-related challenges of the past few years.
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unveiled the report at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, to an audience of more than 250 community leaders, partners, and other stakeholders who were attending the first-ever State of the County event.
“While a big chunk of our time has been committed to responding to COVID-19 and recovery over the past two years, with great success, we’re absolutely energized about getting back to the business of running the County,” Arapahoe County Board Chair Nancy Jackson told the attendees at the State of the County event. “[What we’re discussing today] is only a small percentage of the great work that happens in the County every day.”
The report covers the fiscal year that ended in December 2021. It focuses on how the County handled the latter part of COVID-19 crisis while staying focused on long-term goals and embracing the evolving needs and priorities of residents, businesses, internal staff, and other community stakeholders. The County accomplished this while sustaining, and occasionally improving, service levels as it also developed and executed new strategies for delivering programs and initiatives. These include:
- Helping 112 area small businesses with almost $4.5 million in stabilizing relief grants
- Distributing emergency rental assistance to individuals and families three times faster than the national rate
- Providing job-searching resources, online workshops, and trainings to more than 140,000 community members
- Granting and sharing more than $21 million with community open spaces properties
- Growing 6,533 pounds of produce for distribution to area food banks
- Taking a regional approach and leadership role in addressing homelessness and opioid addiction
- Helping more than 11,000 local veterans access benefits
- Making $5.9 million in pavement improvements to unincorporated parts of the County
- Welcoming 36,854 visitors to the annual County Fair, 10,000 more than the previous attendance record
- Funding 80 local arts organizations with $2.3 million
- Winning awards for accuracy and productivity in its finance, public works, and medicolegal operations, among others
The needs of the pandemic also prompted the County to explore ways to digitize some of its frequently used services, such as permitting and motor vehicle transactions, which has resulted in improved processing, cost savings, and wait times, as well as positive customer feedback. And the County spent 2021 improving and expanding its hiring and educational efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in all its operations, which helped sow the seeds of the formal intergovernmental relationship with the Northern Arapaho Tribe that was ratified this week.
Although the pandemic may be waning, Arapahoe County’s growth is not. To capitalize on this opportunity, the County has contracted with local agency Amelie Corp. to create an economic development campaign called, “Where Good Things Grow”, a series of videos and other collateral designed to showcase the County’s appeal to businesses that are considering opening in or relocating to the area. This is the County’s second collaboration with Amelie, following the 2020-21 award-winning “Keep It Up” anti-COVID campaign.
The 2021 Annual Report can be viewed on our website.