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Axis Health System approved by the state as an enterprise zone project

Health agency says this will help expand health care resources
Axis Health System purchased the Mecury building for around $18 million in the spring of 2023. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Axis Health System is now a Colorado Enterprise Zone project, according to a news release from the health care provider on Tuesday.

The Enterprise Zone Program is supposed to encourage development in economically distressed areas of the state. Southwest Colorado and 15 other designated enterprise zones were declared to have high unemployment rates, low per capita income, or slow population growth, according to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

The news release said investments in the project will increase Axis’ capacity to meet the region’s health care needs by expanding services and providing living wage jobs. Those project investments would also create career pathways in the health care industry through its new Durango Integrated Healthcare campus, formerly the Mercury building in La Plata County.

The Colorado Enterprise Zone Program promotes donations to nonprofit organizations that assist those living in a specific enterprise zone. Enterprise Zone tax credit projects can help lessen donors’ tax strain, according to the release.

It allows donors of $250 or more to claim a 25% state tax credit and a 12.5% state tax credit on in-kind donations, according to the release. This is in addition to the federal tax deduction for contributing to any nonprofit.

“We believe the expansion of health care resources and access through this project will have a significant and long-standing positive impact on the health and quality of life in the community,” Axis CEO Shelly Burke said. “We appreciate the regional support and benefit this tax credit designation provides for donors interested in making a capital contribution to this innovative health care resource in La Plata County.”

Axis moved into the Mercury building in South Durango in April. The building is among the most expensive pieces of commercial real estate in the city, valued at around $18 million.

Axis not only offers behavioral health services, but also primary care and dental care. Axis also offers cancer screenings, substance education and counseling and chronic disease management services.

The health care provider has a total of 430 employees with a $42 million annual budget.

Axis plans to house three of the nonprofit’s patient care facilities in the Mercury building, as well as its corporate office, spokeswoman Haley Leonard told The Durango Herald in April.

This will include integrated patient care, oral care and behavioral health care. It will replace the Columbine Behavioral Health Care facility, Durango Oral Health Clinic and La Plata Integrated Health Care.

Axis is one of 32 enterprise zone projects in Southwest Colorado, according to Laura Lewis Marchino, Executive Director of Region 9 Economic Development.

“Enterprise zones are for distressed areas that meet certain statistical guidelines, like they have a certain unemployment rate compared to the state or out migration or low, you know, median income, that kind of thing. And so, our region there are definitely areas that fit that,” Marchino said.

In order to be an enterprise zone project, the entity receiving donations must be actively working to improve economic conditions, Marchino said.

Because Axis is renovating the Mercury building for its new headquarters, which will provide additional workforce opportunities and offer amenities like a pharmacy and mental health services, it was eligible to be an enterprise zone project.

“The money is going toward the remodel and improvements to the actual building,” Marchino said.


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