Economic Rural Representation Diminishing?

Prowers County Courthouse

Some southeast Colorado representatives are fearful this area of the state will face greater economic isolation from the Front Range in months to come.  The developments at the state level were discussed earlier this week during the PCDI monthly board meeting, and broached again on Thursday during the Prowers County Commissioner’s meeting.  Kelly Taylor, Assistant Director of Southern Colorado Economic Development District, SCEDD, provided a brief update on the agency’s activities, but found herself being questioned on the lack of action for jobs creation from SCEDD and other organizations.  “We’re not blaming you personally,” said Prowers County Commissioner, Gene Millbrand, “We understand you have an uphill battle, but we’re concerned about recent developments,” he added.    

Millbrand and the other commissioners were referring to what may become a lack of direct representation in this part of the state based on personnel and leadership changes for the state’s economic development organization.  SCEDD has been without an executive director since the elimination of Allison Cortner some months ago.  SCEDD is a non profit organization, representing 13 southeast Colorado counties.  Darlene Scott was recently eliminated from her position as southeast Colorado representative for the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, a post she held for almost eight years.  Ken Lund was recently appointed as the state executive director to that office, and recently, announced a consolidation of representatives from the eastern region of the state to the Denver metro area.    PCDI executive director Lisa Nolder has spoken with her counterparts in the northeast and east central portion of the state who share her concerns, rural representation for economic development at the state level is going away.   

SCEDD is supported in part by local contributions, with Prowers County donating about $2,000 a year.  The commissioners wanted to know what kind of a return they were receiving, at least in terms of representation.  Millbrand told Taylor, “We’d like to be kept in the loop and receive updates for RFP’s and perhaps a visit every quarter from your office.”  Commissioner Schnabel asked just how important was SCEDD in securing grants for the county on a federal level.  He said the county needs to evaluate all our budget items and evaluate their worth before we act on them, referring to SCEDD’s annual funding request.   

The governor’s “Bottom Up: County Economic Development Summary was also discussed, and not in a favorable light as it pertains to southeast Colorado economic development.  This past summer, every county in Colorado held several forums to determine their top five economic development goals and strategies.   SCEDD also conducted identical meetings with the same results.  Commissioner Millbrand asked how it came about that while the closing of Ft. Lyon prison will have an economic impact on the region, it was pushed to the top of the five priorities developed in Prowers County, with no explanation given for the change.  Taylor presented a multi-page study on the economic breakdown of Prowers County, asking the commissioners to review the accuracy of the data.  They said some changes were already in need of updating in that one-third of all county households and 43% of the county population was on food stamps.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCommissionersCountyEconomyEmploymentFeatured


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.