When Chris Nowak started Rocky Mountain Motorworks, a mail-order distributor of Volkswagenparts, it never occurred to him that local economic-development programs would fuel his company's rapid growth.

In 1990, a government program provided Nowak with salary-matching funds to entice him to hire workers who were leaving other government-sponsoredprograms. Later, when the company had outgrown its Woodland Park, Colo., headquarters and was thinking about moving to a neighboring town, a localeconomic-development group helped get the company free land at a new industrial park. "That saved us about $500,000," says Nowak, who got a SmallBusiness Administration loan to help pay for construction and a low-interest fixed loan from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority to cover the rest. Thetown of Woodland Park also bought Nowak's old building, which provided him with the down payment for the construction costs.

To get such help, says Nowak, "you have to demonstrate to these programs that you're creating jobs and local opportunities." But that wasn't difficult forhim. What was difficult was figuring out all the accounting that was involved in the complicated deals. "It's important to have the best accounting assistanceyou can," says Nowak. "Tax incentives and other kinds of deals can be quite complicated." Without the programs, he says, "we could never have grown to$5 million in sales," which the company hit in 1994.