PCDI Reviews Business Seminars, Discusses Front Range Awareness for Local Businesses

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“We had a good response on the first round of business meetings,” according to PCDI Executive Director, Lance Benninghoff.   He was summarizing the attendance at the two business oriented sessions held last week at the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn, the first of several seminars planned by Prowers County Development Incorporated.  During the monthly board meeting, Tuesday, May 27, Benninghoff said some future seminar topics will focus on workplace safety and later, Economic Development 101.  He’d like to build momentum for future seminars.  The one on safety will address more than workplace injuries associated with factories.  “Some business owners would find it helpful to learn about workman’s compensation, insurance liability for employees and customers in a store and safety regulations.  Benninghoff said he hoped to have a speaker from OSHA for the seminar.  He also told the board, he’s been in contact with Kari Linker, formerly of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, to discuss how economic development is differentiated from business development or community development.  “Quite often, all three are considered to be the same, but it’s important to note what those differences are, especially for elected officials as well as business owners and managers,” he explained.

Benninghoff discussed the Colorado Workforce Development Council’s Sector Summit II conference he attended.  Subtitled: Growing the Talent Pipeline, he noted a growing need, statewide and locally, to find a larger pool of workers to match the job needs of the economy.  He said more businesses are listing the need for a trained workforce as their priorities, citing job descriptions in help wanted columns for which there’s a lack of training to meet those openings.   “The top three employment areas of job growth concern during the conference were manufacturing, health care and agriculture,” he said.  Benninghoff told the board members he will pursue agriculture needs for this region and members offered suggestions for ag business contacts, including the LCC Ag Advisory Council.  He said the teaching focus is also shifting to high school students along with colleges and trade schools.

One brief mention snowballed into a longer discussion of how to showcase Prowers County along the Front Range.  John Marrin, Lamar Community College President, said he spoke with Axel Thurner of C.F. Maier in Lamar who noted that his business enjoys a larger awareness statewide, because his parents list the Lamar business in Denver directories, even though the calls are automatically routed to Lamar.  Marrin said, “Most people seeking information on a business tend to stay with the Denver area and don’t get beyond that if they can’t find what they want.  Their next choice is another state.”  Rick Robbins, PCDI President, echoed that finding.  “I attended a food and beverage summit recently and found that about half the people there didn’t know Lamar existed,” he stated, “They don’t get beyond first impressions about the state, which leaves us out.”

Benninghoff said he’d explore the potential of bringing the regional economic development group SEBREA into the fold, listing southeast Colorado businesses in Front Range directories or having a storefront representation where people can learn about potential business opportunities that are now present.  The advantages of warehousing distribution in this area were also discussed.  Other meeting topics covered repair work to the wind damaged warehouse owned by PCDI.  Daniels Construction will fix the roof that was torn off during a recent storm.  PCDI will work with LCC to host the college’s annual Foundation Golf Tournament, set this year for September 12-13.  Mention was also made on who the Lamar City Council will appoint to be the PCDI liaison, replacing Skip Ruedeman who moved from the area earlier this month.  Ruedeman had also provided updates on the Amtrak Southwest Chief railroad line for the board.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEducationEmploymentFeaturedLamarProwers CountyTransportation

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