Waiting on direction

State official says economic study will have to wait until new Partnership leader hired

A representative of Gov. Bill Owens said Wednesday Moffat County won't benefit from a state-backed community business needs assessment until a new local economic development director is hired.

Patricia Snidow, a former Craig resident now representing Colorado's Western Slope for the governor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said the area next year "could get on a list" of state entities waiting for the studies when and if a replacement for Wallace Ralston is found.

Ralston, former director of the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership, resigned Jan. 16. amid controversy.

"(Craig/Moffat County) would then be back in the mix next year, but I can't make promises," Snidow said after addressing the Craig Chamber of Commerce during its annual luncheon Wednesday.

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree, an ex-officio member of the local partnership, said a short list of 12 applicants to replace Ralston would be narrowed to three or four candidates at a scheduled meeting Wednesday.

Nearly 80 applied for the job, Ferree said. The application period closed at the end of April.

"We would hope to have someone here by August," he said.

Snidow said the state studies -- conducted over three-day visits to communities -- involve economic development specialists and Department of Local Affairs representatives -- all of whom evaluate a community's existing industry, host focus groups and meet with various officials in an effort to identify economic development potential and challenges.

South Routt County towns will receive such an assessment this year, she said.

"It's very straight forward," said Snidow, who noted feedback on a recent planning effort from the mayor of the city of Cortez.

"For her, these were all things she said they knew already but were afraid to talk about."

Assessments aside, Snidow said sluggish economic conditions have presented numerous challenges to community marketing efforts. State Legislators' budget deficit of nearly $1 billion also had her wondering if a job would exist past the new fiscal year in July.

Regional feedback found politicians' ears in Denver.

"The community of Western Colorado made it clear it wanted this position here," she said.

Marketing communities starts with knowing them first, she said.

"One-hundred percent of the people who moved to Western Colorado probably vacationed here first," Snidow said of employer recruitment. "Tourism traffic is your market."

That recruiting process also needs the right image and online

medium.

"How you present yourself is important in a global market," Snidow said. "How you solve problems, work together ... that's how people view you."

Statewide, meanwhile, Colorado's economic development office is identifying emerging industries, and criteria for attracting those jobs, she said.

All while trying to lure today's jobs at the Golden State's expense.

"We're hearing a lot from companies in Southern California, so we've decided to become more aggressive there," Snidow said.


Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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