Economic Survey Seminars Underway in Prowers County

Initial results from, “Bottom Up”, a citizen’s economic survey of needs, strengths and weaknesses in Prowers County, were discussed during an open forum held at the Cultural Events Center in Lamar Monday evening, March 21.

PCDI, Prowers County Development Incorporated, and the Prowers County Commissioners are hosting similar meetings in Granada, Wiley and Holly this week. The results will be sent to the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the governor’s office. Governor Hickenlooper’s office initiated the surveys, in order to develop a statewide economic development plan from each of the 64 county’s top five goals and concerns.

Lisa Nolder, PCDI executive director, spoke to a gathering of fewer than 20 residents, including media and civic leaders. Lamar mayor Roger Stagner and city councilman Skip Ruedeman were present, as well all three county commissioners, Shawna Hodge, Lamar Main Street Director and Wilma Trujillo from the Southeast Area Extension Office.

The top five responses of the categories included:

County Economic Strength:

Renewable energy potential-78.5% of respondents; local health care facilities-59.1%; quality local/regional school system-40.9%; transportation network-33.3% and tourism assets-29%.

County Economic Weakness:

Access to markets-53.8%; well-trained workforce-48.4%; housing options-44.1%; strong existing business-37.6% and strong community leadership-37.6%

Economic Threats or Limitations:

Younger generation leaving the area-84.9%; vacant Main Street stores-76.3%; declining industries-68.8%; lack of labor force training opportunities-30.1% and ineffective local government-28%.

Economic Opportunities:

Available land-66.7%; attractive community/quality of life-49.5%; access to transportation-38.7%; tourism attractions-34.4% and specific demographic group-students/retirees, etc.-28%.

Economic Development Goals:

Create new jobs-77.4%; encourage existing business/industry growth-63.4%; encourage Main Street, downtown or town center revitalization-57%; diversify the economic base-33.3% and increase job skills of labor force-31.2%.

The five central goals and market strategies listed by the audience included retaining Lamar Community College in light of the state’s educational cutbacks and maintaining strong, regional health facilities such as PMC and High Plains Health Center; developing renewable energy outlets; create and retain quality jobs; develop and retain a regional alliance of communities working for the six, southeast county economic interests, as well as plan for future community development in the form of a retirement center complex and maintain our water supply for agriculture and municipal developments.

 

Citizens have been asked to respond by email to 10 questions in a self-assessment survey by March 31. Each of the 64 counties will submit their findings to the state by April 15 and the governor’s office will have completed their assessment by May 15. To date, 93 responses have been measured for Prowers County over several weeks. By comparison, commissioner Gene Millbrand said over 250 were sent in from the San Luis Valley area in the survey’s first three days. On a sobering note, Millbrand observed that the current recession in Colorado is such that, the state has no funding to implement any of the suggestions made at this time. Residents wishing to take the online survey can do so at: www.advancecolorado.com.

 

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