PCDI Reviews 2012 Budget, Voices Concerns for Eastern Colorado Economic Representation

Prowers County Development Incorporated, the county economic development organization, will be funded by both the city of Lamar and the county for 2012.  Both contribute $50,000 to help maintain operating funds.  The county had pledged its share during a joint meeting between the city and county earlier this fall, and the city announced they would continue their funding at a similar meeting held October 12.  

The PCDI board reviewed the 2012 budget during their monthly meeting on Tuesday, October 25.  The total estimated income for 2011 is $115,000 with $15,000 expected from various Community Partnerships and additional funding from town governments from Holly, Wiley and Granada.  In past years a PCDI sponsored golf tournament had been held to raise funds, but the suggestion was tabled for 2012 in hopes of finding a more unique event which could garner additional funding.  Salaries, office rent, insurance and office expenses were mainly unchanged, but the utilities budget was increased slightly in anticipation of rate hikes beginning next month and in the spring, and travel expenses for the executive director, Lisa Nolder, was increased.  Board members said they would continue their efforts to secure donations through the year with the Community Partnership Program. 

Discussion focused on the possible listing or rental of the former Big R warehouse on Washington Street.   The buildings have been empty for over two years and were donated by the company to PCDI to be used as an incentive package to attract a jobs developing business to Lamar.  Nolder said she’s meeting with a potential renter this week and a La Junta real estate company expressed interest in taking an exclusive listing for the property.  Nolder said they had other business connections along the Front Range.  Nolder informed the board that interest has been shown in purchasing the land between the Cow Palace Inn and Lamar Inn along North Main Street.  The interested party is planning an additional franchise motel at the site. 

Board members discussed their concerns that with the change in leadership for the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, the eastern half of Colorado may get the short end of the stick for future representation.  Nolder noted the changes that have already taken place with the elimination of the position held by Darlene Scott who had been the eastern Colorado Business Development Representative for almost eight years.  Nolder said that some of the business prospects Scott had been working on for the eastern region of the state are now, not retrievable. Nolder said Ken Lund, the new executive director of OEDIT by appointment of Governor Hickenlooper, stated that DOLA administrators and the Governor’s Energy Office will begin to oversee some former development posts that served the rural areas of the eastern half of the state.  They will, however, be working out of Denver offices, not in the rural areas they’ll be representing.  The changes were brought about from a summer long survey to develop a statewide economic development plan known as “The Colorado Blueprint.  Nolder said she spoke to Lee Merkel from DOLA during a recent regional business development meeting if he had the necessary staff, resources and the training to assist in future trade shows and business prospecting,  and he replied, “No.”  Letters of concern have been written by economic development groups in the eastern portion of the state and sent to Hickenlooper and Lund, and board members said our local and regional elected officials should also start to protest these changes in the capital.  With the pending holidays, the board set meeting dates for November 29 and December 20.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedGranadaHollyLamarThe Journal AlertWiley


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