PCDI Board Discusses 2016 Funding, Objectives



PCDI Interim Executive Director George Gotto, who will step down from the position this month, thanked the board for their cooperation and assistance during his tenure when he stepped in several months after the resignation of Lance Benninghoff, the former PCDI director.

In his final report to the board, Gotto said he and County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, attended a meeting in La Junta regarding the development of a distribution center to handle diesel fuel derived from converting switchgrass to the organic-based fuel.  Gotto said the company, Fuel Renuit, was looking for a potential site.  “He explained, “They’re talking about developing 234,000 acres of switchgrass to be grown down here and they think there’s potential for it in this area.  It wasn’t a very focused presentation and I feel there’s a long way to go before they can develop a plant.”  Gotto said there was some general skepticism about the overall project, but he was hopeful it could develop beyond the planning stages.

Two businesses are planned to open in Wiley, Gotto said.  Land was purchased at the junction of Highway 287 and CR NN for the development of a liquor store and a car wash.  The property was recently purchased and a future meeting has been set with the County Commissioners as well as with Alan Campbell, Wiley mayor, to discuss incentives for the project.

The City of Lamar made its last payment of $12,500 to PCDI this November, fulfilling its 2015 commitment of $50,000 to help support the county’s economic development organization.   Prowers County has budgeted its $50,000 contribution to the organization for 2016, but additional funding will have to come from other sources.  The 2016 PCDI budget reflects the decrease comparing the 2015 income of $116,750 to next year’s $63,860.  Carla Scranton, PCDI Business Manager, will continue to maintain the office.  Gotto said the new budget was on a break even basis and there is no line item for next year for an executive director salary.  He noted there was a minor amount of income from surrounding communities; Wiley, Holly and Granada.  Gotto stated, “Under this plan, PCDI will remain a viable organization and will be able to help increase economic development throughout the county.”  The board approved the budget, contingent on future funding.

Rick Robbins, PCDI President, referenced a recent meeting with the county regarding a future direction for the organization which was detailed by Ron Cook, County Commissioner Chairman.  Cook outlined a plan to hire PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates.  PUMA, in association with ULI, Urban Land Institute, conducted a study of Lamar several years ago which provided a springboard for the Healthy Places group and a three year, $1M grant to finance a health oriented study of the Lamar community.

Cook set the groundwork, stating, “We’re looking at direction and it’s been everybody’s idea through the city and the county that we haven’t actually accomplished anything with a good direction.  I can see how hard it is to show that you’ve accomplished anything, but we thought an assessment of the county of what we have to sell ourselves with would help, so we thought we’d do an assessment of all the towns in the county just to get a direction that we’re spending our money wisely.”

He said PUMA has been aggressive with Healthy Places and it would benefit us to have this assessment done.  Cook said the cost is $50,000, but the cost could be offset by the results.   “It could take nine months to a year and they’ll report to us in stages and conduct public meetings,” he explained.  He added that this is a way to bring in a buy-in from the other communities that, “We’re actually trying to do something.”  Cook said he is looking for a way to have the City of Lamar fund part of the cost as the county can’t afford to fund both PCDI and pay for the assessment.

John Marrin said the study could also answer some important questions about the county, “Is there a reason that the environment is not conducive to economic growth?  There are three areas we need to explore.  We have to have a champion to push this forward, we need more money beyond the initial $50,000 and why is the environment not conducive to economic growth here, because it isn’t.  There’s a systemic reason for this.”  Commissioner Andrade stated that PUMA gives a different perspective on how to develop economic accomplishments.  She said they may be able to show the county how we’re going at it wrong.

Gotto said he and Carla Scranton have been working on a USDA grant application for a Rural Development Block Grant for economic development.  He suggested that the PUMA costs could be covered by the grant.  The board also discussed using a portion of the proceeds from the recent sale of the Washington Street property to cover a portion of the PUMA costs.

In other action, because of recent problems developing from a slew of junk emails, PCDI is considering discontinuing its present email system.  Cook said the matter will be put on the commissioner’s agenda for a discussion on the particulars involving a transfer to the county’s new website which has been in use for the past two months.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyFeaturedGranadaHollyLamarProwers CountyWiley


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.