PCDI Should Reflect Unique Offering to Potential Business Developers

George Gotto Interim Executive Director for PCDI

George Gotto Interim Executive Director for PCDI

George Gotto, Interim Executive Director for PCDI, Prowers County Development Incorporated, recapped his visit to the hemp farm that is developing in La Junta during the organization’s monthly meeting. The Whole Hemp Company has 100 acres planted using drip irrigation this year and employs about 30 people. He stated, “They expect to have from 200 to 250 workers when they’re at full capacity, using between two to five thousand acres for the future crop.” Gotto added that the former Wal-Mart building in La Junta will be converted to process medicinal oil from the plant. Gotto added, “Colorado and 18 other states have received permission to grow and process the plant. The U.S. right now is the world’s largest user of hemp products, but we import everything.”

SEBREA, the regional, five-county economic development organization, is revamping its by-laws, attempting to secure a 501-c-3 status which will allow them to apply directly for grants instead of using an economic development company and one of the five county commissioner boards to process their applications. Gotto attended a marketing class in La Junta, sponsored by the Small Business Development Center and he explained, “The class emphasized ways to distinguish your business from all others.” One focus in the discussion outlined how to differentiate your business from your competitors. He said, “Everyone has the same response declaring our service is what separates us, but no one ever tells you what their service is. They say it’s our people that distinguish them from the competition, but we don’t say why or what makes our people special.” Gotto gave the example of a donut shop operator who used remaining dough to make what was termed a ‘big honkin chocolate donut’ and eventually the uniqueness of the product caught on and it’s become a mainstay for her business. He added, it would be to PCDI’s advantage to recognize what does make us completely different from the other counties we’re competing against.

Gotto stated that there are some areas in local economic development that need an explanation and one upgrade. “There’s a lot of confusion amongst our citizens regarding who is PCDI, what’s Urban Renewal, what’s Lamar Partnership…what do they do, isn’t that the same thing that PCDI and Urban Renewal is doing, Downtown Lamar and SECED. And I’m sure we could come up with some more organizations all doing the same thing.” He explained that each has a distinct niche, different roles and different missions, but to the general local resident, it’s all basically the same group with different titles.

Gotto added that PCDI works to develop primary dollars and attract businesses that will bring money and outside jobs to the community. Urban Renewal, he explained, uses tax dollars to help upgrade the community’s infrastructure to improve the business community. Downtown Lamar helps churn up the dollars already in the community with local sales, but those dollars eventually will leave the local area. He said the community needs to understand the different roles of each organization and how they all work for our benefit.

The upgrade he mentioned referred to the PCDI website, inferring that it has become outdated and is not easy to find from an internet search. “We use procolorado.org which is an unusual name for Prowers County economic development. It would take a while for an out-of-town person to find us on the web using that title,” he added. Gotto suggested that some updates would make the site more interesting and dynamic and reflective of what’s current in the community. “The last demographics show that the average price of a home is $74,000. That might have been the case in 2010, but it has changed since then.” Gotto alluded to two discussions he has had with potential Wiley business developers, but had little to allow beyond that. He added that both are local people, although one has been away from the area for a while, but both businesses, if developed, would be advantageous to the Wiley community.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCityCountyEconomyEducationEmploymentFeaturedLamarProwers CountyWiley


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