Commissioners Reappraise SCEDD Membership Benefits

Prowers County Courthouse

Kelly Taylor, Assistant Director of Southern Colorado Economic Development District & The Lending Center, and Margaret Eichman, SCEDD Board President, met with the Prowers County Commissioners, Thursday, July 19 to discuss SCEDD’s role in business development in the county.  Prowers County is one of 12 members in the district and according to Eeichman, the only county that has not completed payment of their annual membership dues amounting to $2,133.37. 

The commissioners wanted to see what value they were receiving for a return on the membership fees, of which $1,000 had been paid to SCEDD this past May.  According to Commissioner Gene Millbrand, there hasn’t been much action for the county that he’s witnessed.  “I’ve been a commissioner for seven years and in that time, I haven’t seen very much of a benefit to the county from the SCEDD operation,” he explained.  He added,” We have periodic demographic updates on finance, and economic factors in the county in your publication, but not much beyond that.”  Millbrand and the other commissioners echoed similar sentiments, saying they have to be mindful of how every tax dollar is spent in the county and they’re starting the groundwork for the 2013 budget.  Millbrand stated that he’s tired of seeing tax dollars going to economic studies, but once their over, there’s no funding for any concrete action. 

Eichman and Taylor replied that part of the annual dues are used for matching funds for potential grants and helps fund their services for the district they serve.  They added that most member communities find it easier to qualify for grants with SCEDD backing than those who are not aligned with the organization.  “Federal grants especially,” explained Taylor, “you sometimes need to meet a higher standard on those applications and that’s when our services can be a benefit.”  The SCEDDD board is currently working on a five year review of the 12 southern Colorado counties for local job creation. 

The commissioners thanked the members for their time, but took no action on the balance of the SCEDD dues by the meeting’s close. 

The CEDS, County Economic Development Study for Prowers County, did shed light on various financial factors, along with other information available from other sources. 

Some areas cmentioned showed: 

2011 County population, according to DOLA, is 13,263 or 0.25% of the state population.  In the last ten years, the county population has dropped 7% while the state has increased 18%.   (5/18/2011)  

The median age for Prowers County is 36.7.  Average life expectancy is 75.7.  There has been an increase in the population between 50 and 70, the Baby Boomer generation.  62% of the county population lives in Lamar.  (6/9/2011) 

23.1% of the total county population lives in poverty, compared to 12.6% for Colorado and 14.3 for the U.S.  Food Stamp participation is 16% of the population.  In 2009, Teen Births in Prowers County were 36 for every 1,000; the state average is 20 births.  (8/18/2011) 

The OEDIT reports that $13 million was spent by visitors to Prowers County in 2009.  In 2007, the figure was $14.5 million.  Approximately 370 full and part time jobs were attributed to travel and tourism in Prowers County in that year.  (8/10/2010) 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1/13/2011 reported that weekly wages, as reported by the Colorado Workforce, for Prowers County, were 39% below the State; with Prowers County at $606 and the State at $1,001.  The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports average annual wages for Prowers County in 2009 were 36% below the state with Prowers County at $30,623 and the State at $47,622.

By Russ Baldwin

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