A Rural Economic Development grant has financed a study of Holly and Granada to provide an assessment of the current and potential business climate of each community. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs, DOLA and the Colorado Office of Economic Development of International Trade, sponsored the study which was held earlier in the year.
Representatives conducted a focus group discussion with local elected officials, business owners and other community leaders to develop an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The findings were presented during a forum to hear from the general community on those matters. The analysis will provide the towns with some broad business recommendations in two areas: Industry Diversification and Heritage Tourism. It will also outline the next steps to be taken for future economic development.
Some highlights of the focus group for both towns were put into four categories referred to as a SWOT analysis.
Shared strengths referred to: a small town feel, business friendly atmosphere, history and heritage, sunshine/weather, water recreation, architecture, proximity to Highway 50 & 287, space and quiet and peaceful long vistas.
Weaknesses for each community were listed as: new housing challenges, competition from big stores (Walmart), cost of utilities, aging water and sewer systems, fees from government regulations and need for skilled trades and associated training.
Opportunities included: geographic room to expand, proximity to transportation corridors, low cost of living/housing, lack of business inhibiting regulations, attractions for aging population and heritage and agri-tourism potential.
Threats were listed as: Water loss to growing Front Range, population decline, aging population, regulations, acceptance of status quo, lack of equity for loans and lack of commercial/business loans.
Since Prowers County Development Incorporated, PCDI, has lost some of its operations funding and no longer has a permanent executive director one recommendation from the study was the need to identify a primary point of contact to work with local businesses and market each community’s selling points to prospective companies. Potential industries need to be identified and match the business’s needs to what can be provided to it by the communities. Determine the needs of the ‘boomerang’ generation of former residents who desire to return to their community, catalog their careers for future economic contributions and keep them updated on community developments. Another suggestion was to build upon this group to identify who would assume future leadership positions. Marketing events to outlying areas of the region were also recommended and make use of existing tourism resources to highlight local tourism attractions.
The study’s end result will be the creation of a strategic plan within the next three to six months. The plan will provide a common goal which will focus local efforts from each town. It will also help identify the role the county will play in economic development with both communities. Once the goals have been outlined, put the strategies into play and provide updates to the community on the progress that has been made.
By Russ Baldwin
Filed Under: Agriculture • Business • City • community • County • Economy • Featured • Granada • History • Holly • Prowers County • School • Tourism • Transportation • Utilities • Water Report • Weather
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