PCDI Board Appoints Cindy Otto, Reduces Sale Price of Big R Warehouse


Cindy Otto of Granada was unanimously voted as a replacement director by the Prowers County Development Incorporated board during Tuesday’s monthly meeting.  Otto is replacing another Granada resident, Deb Choat, who resigned this past spring due to various professional scheduling conflicts.  Otto will assume Choat’s seat for the duration of her term.   The board also appointed interim executive director, George Gotto, to serve on the LPI, Lamar Partnership Incorporated, Board of Directors.  He’ll take the position formerly held by Lance Benninghoff.

Board members decided to lower the asking price for the buildings on East Washington Street, formerly known as the Big R Warehouse.  Big R donated the land and buildings to PCDI when the company moved its local headquarters to the Pueblo area several years ago.  The structures have been rented consistently only in the past year, to the Colorado State Patrol, ARPA and a private venture that offered a paintball arcade.  Bob Randle Realty has listed the property for the past several years with an asking price of $365,000.  Board members voted Tuesday to list the property at $195,000.  Randle Realty, through Sharon Wilson, has the property listed on several websites as well as throughout the southeast Colorado region.

Gotto’s monthly director’s report covered time spent visiting business owners, determining their feeling for the community and he indicated there have been mixed results.  “I’m becoming more aware of the programs offered at SECED after visiting with Stephanie Gonzales.  I was amazed at the number of programs SECED offers small businesses and individuals that have been underused.  Gonzales has been working to make the community aware of them and we’ll see more activities from that organization in the future.”  Gotto discussed the permits being sought by developers of a proposed automatic car wash operation on East Olive Street and the search for a building location for an upscale Mexican restaurant that an individual has proposed.

Gotto recapped a recent conversation with long time associate, Alan Campbell, Wiley Mayor, regarding economic development in that community and how essential needs for the town have been static.  “We’re still struggling with the same problems we had thirty years ago.  It’s always water, utilities, dogs at large, streets and sewers; always a problem in small towns.  There never seems to be enough money and we’re all looking for the same grant dollars through DOLA or GoCO to try to get some projects accomplished.  It’s all because there just isn’t any generation of new capital in the communities so we rely overly on grant proceeds which seems to be the only way to get things done.  They’re working now on getting a grant for a new water tank at Wiley and plan to demolish the old one.  Wiley gets their water ten miles from their location and a pipeline runs past 5 Rivers from a seep ditch into the town and that cost many millions of dollars, but it has given them a reliable source of water, and some excess to sell to various businesses.  All that came at the expense of selling your soul to the government for 40 years with a promise to pay back.  The tax base, I think everybody realizes, hasn’t increased in Prowers County over the last few years; difficult to get our citizens to agree to finance even new projects even as we pay off old ones.”  He stated there are numerous lender services available, but the hard thing is to get people to take advantage of them or research prospective lenders.  “One of PCDI’s goals is to make sure that all available sources are introduced to the people that need that help,” he added.

Gotto said two such sources are SECED, Southeast Colorado Economic Development, in Lamar and SBDC, the Small Business Development Center in La Junta.  “SECED,” he said, “can take a second position on a loan and offer some capital funding to bridge a gap when a bank won’t finance a loan completely.”

The interim executive director described an economic loop of limited spending dollars and customers.  “When I ask business owners what they want to see that can help their operations, the general answer is more customers with more money.”  He said that most car sales, for example, require a loan, but you need a certain level of income to qualify for the loan.  “If you go into a retail store, a mechanic, an auto store, it’s essentially the same problem. Where is the income, coming from for these folks?  We need to focus on expanding local jobs.”

PCDI has not been without critics over the years and local realtor, Don Filbeck, voiced several criticisms during the Tuesday meeting. He mentioned some business ventures he initiated in the region including Tractor Supply in Lamar and soon in Walsenburg, as well as a new Big R Store, set for the former Alco store in Springfield.  “Where I’m coming from in this is, I don’t get anything from PCDI, never have.  The only thing I got was Carla (Scranton) calling me about a Tractor Supply contract.”  He mentioned several of his other land sales and added, “I’ve helped create more jobs than anybody in this room, or all of you together, and that’s kind of frustrating.  I guess I’m patting myself on the back.”  Filbeck mentioned other competing land developments in La Junta including cash incentives based on job development from that city.

Other towns are working very hard compared to us to get businesses and jobs into their areas, he told the board, adding, “We got a good town, but we got a lot of problems.  We need to get them straightened out because a lot of little towns are working a whole lot harder than our PCDI.  I think George is the wrong man for the job.  That’s all I’m going to say.”

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessChamber/Local BusinesscommunityCountyEconomyFeaturedLamarProwers County


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