Gotto Offers Specifics on PCDI Goals

George Gotto Interim Executive Director for PCDI

George Gotto Interim Executive Director for PCDI

“We’re looking for businesses that can provide the county with primary jobs and create new money for the area,” said George Gotto, interim executive director for PCDI, during an update on activities he provided for the Lamar City Council.  He added, “What we’re interested in helping is retailers who will not be competing with similar establishments already in the county, if we can.”

Gotto, who was selected as an interim director for the economic development organization in May, told the council he’s spent the past six weeks meeting with town governing boards in the county and discussing business priorities with a number of store owners.  He labeled himself as being employed directly from neither the city nor the county, “I’m working as an independent contract employee, but with oversight from the Prowers County Administrator,” he explained, stating that he’s on a flat salary for his period of employment.

When asked about developing local funding for PCDI by councilman Kirk Crespin, Gotto said that concept really won’t work or get the job done.  He forecast how the future PCDI director can’t be paid from funds raised from the community, relating to the manner in which two economic development employees from La Junta conduct their funding and how they are paid separately from their department.  He added, “One of the things I was instructed to focus on was fund raising and honestly, that’s not going to work for me or any others.  It’s impossible for me to go into a bank and ask for $5,000 or $10,000 as the first thing I’m asked is, ‘What do you get paid a year?’  You can’t raise funds and pay yourself from them.  That’s a question the city and the county will have to answer.  If they work it like La Junta, where one person is paid by the city and the other works on a contract basis or is paid by the hour or the results they produce.”

Discussing potential future growth for the county, Gotto stated, “Neoplan was a fluke. That level of development comes to a community our size once in about 100 years.”  Neoplan USA was a German based bus manufacturing company that constructed their manufacturing plant in Lamar in 1981 and employed as many as 600 persons before the plant closed in 1994.  Dragon Industries is now housed in the former building.  Gotto added that communities with our limited resources can’t compete for major job growth against organizations like PEDCO which has a several million dollar reserve to use for business incentive packages.

Gotto listed several developments that will become economic drivers for the county in the near future, as well as some already in operation.  “One of them is the development of Highway 50.  We’re already seeing that by Holly with their motel full from construction workers and as work continues on the highway we’ll see the benefits accrue for all the towns in the lower Arkansas Valley.  Another one is the Highway 287 by-pass.  We have been talking about that for 30-40 years.  In the next five or six years, maybe something will happen and when it does we’re going to see economic development like we haven’t seen since Neoplan came in.  We’re going to see a lot of economic development in downtown Lamar.  The attitude downtown has changed.  We have folks that are doing a really good job down town helping local businesses.  Urban renewal will be a boon for Lamar, and will be a major part of economic development.”

He listed home construction in the lower Arkansas Valley as critical for business development.  “It has to improve in the next five years or we’re not going to see any develop at all, or it will all be short lived.  I’ve been interested for the past year with what’s termed tiny houses.  I’m thinking we need a subdivision with people who can afford them and live in that way.  We might explore that for Lamar.

Gotto concluded his remarks with a prediction of how our recent rains will impact the area, “We’ve got enough water that we’ll see water recreation and business development in the next 12 months.  There should be a boat dealership in Lamar again, with other water recreation such as skidoos and water sports, heydays like 30 years ago with fuller lakes and recreational opportunities.”

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessChamber/Local BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyEmploymentFeaturedGranadaHistoryHollyLamarProwers CountyRecreationTourismTransportationWiley


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