Written by: Mark Harden
Seven stimulus-funded projects in Colorado representing more than half a billion dollars in federal funding are cited in a new list from the White House of “100 Recovery Act Projects Changing America.”
The list, issued Friday under the name of Vice President Joe Biden, spotlights some of what the White House calls “some of the most innovative and effective Recovery Act projects nationwide.”
The list includes federal support for redevelopment of Denver Union Station as a transit hub, a $400 million loan guarantee to Colorado’s Abound Solar to make thin-film solar power panels, and stimulus funds to UQM Technologies to spur production of electric production systems for cars.
“With Recovery Act projects like these, we’re starting to turn the page on a decade of failed economic policies and rebuild our economy on a new foundation that creates good middle class jobs for American families,” Biden said in a statement. “And we’re not engineering this transformation alone ― Recovery Act projects like these are drawing billions in private capital off the sidelines to help recharge our economy.”
The seven Colorado projects listed represent about $525.9 million in federal grants, loans and other funding commitments from the stimulus program, some of which went for portions of projects that involved other states.
The Obama administration has come under increasing attack from Republicans who criticize the stimulus initiative ― officially, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ― as wasteful and ineffective.
Biden and other administration officials have traveled the country repreatedly in recent months to tout the benefits of a variety of local projects paid for with stimulus dollars. Biden visited UQM Technologies’ Longmont plant in April, for example.
According to Colorado officials, the state is expected to receive a total of $7.3 billion in funding from the Recovery Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in Denver in February 2009. The White House Council of Economic Advisors claims that the stimulus program created, saved or “indirectly produced” some 50,000 jobs in Colorado that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.
The new White House list appears to be aimed as a response to an earlier, more critical list called “”100 stimulus projects that give taxpayers the blues.”
The earlier list was released Aug. 3 by Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, neither of whom voted for the stimulus program, and it implicitly criticized the fact that some Colorado beer, wine and liquor producers received stimulus-backed business loans, including $1.4 million for the Fort Collins Brewery and $1.1 million for Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey.
“The Recovery Act is helping Colorado’s economy by investing in ambitious projects like the redevelopment of Denver Union Station and the expansion of Abound Solar in Longmont,” Gov. Bill Ritter said in a statement. “These projects are creating and retaining thousands of jobs, shifting the economy in the right direction and providing long-term benefits to the people of Colorado.”
Here are the seven Colorado stimulus projects included in the report, as described by White House officials:
12. Intersection Completed, Benefitting an Entire Region ― Loveland, Colorado ― $3 million
On August 12, 2010 the new interchange at Crossroads Boulevard and Interstate 25 in Loveland, Colorado opened, addressing a significant regional transportation problem and providing benefits to the region’s residents ― benefits that would likely have taken another 10-20 years to materialize without this additional funding. The $5.5 million project, which combined $3 million in Recovery Act funds with funds from a metro district maintained by developer McWHINNEY and funding from local tax funds, features a large roundabout on either side of I-25 and pedestrian walkways below the bridge, and is expected to handle about 24,000 vehicles per day. In the final quarter before completion, this project supported 22 employees.
17. Pushing Innovation in Photovoltaic Solar Panels ― Longmont, Colorado and Tipton, Indiana – $400 million
36. Transforming Denver Union Station ― Denver, Colorado ― $28 million
41. Energy Efficient Federal Center ― Denver, Colorado ― $39.4 million
52. Providing Housing Options for Abused Women and Children ― Larimer County, Colorado – $500,000
57. Housing Construction for Seniors and the Disabled ― Denver, Colorado ― $10 million
69. Electric Vehicle Component Supplier Gets Boost from Recovery Act ― Longmont, Colorado – $45 million