A positive development

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It was a rocky year for the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership in 2003. It included the resignation of its director following an effort to terminate him, an effort to oust the board's chairman, confusion and heated debate over the partnership's bylaws, a threat to its funding and a general loss of consumer confidence.

But, the EDP is ringing in 2004 with a new director, a new attitude and a positive momentum much in sync with what its creators envisioned.

It is now officially a group of dedicated business leaders working for businesses creating a plan to achieve its goals of diversifying and stabilizing Moffat County's economy.

That need has never been more evident. Moffat County's tax revenue -- based primarily on energy and natural resource extraction -- is plummeting, forcing the county to cut even essential services from its 2004 budget.

Economic forecasts don't show a turnaround on the horizon as new and changing accounting practices, along with anticipated devaluation, indicate a continued downward spiral.

Short of legislative changes, little can be done but to grow existing Moffat County businesses and bring in new industries to take the tax burden off the mines and the Craig Station power plant.

This is what the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership was formed and funded to do, but has been unable to accomplish because of conflicts.

We predict that 2004 will herald a new direction and a new commitment from the partnership.

Its objectives are ambitious: to increase the group's credibility and visibility, to assess economic development strategies and to create an action plan that meets with its goal to promote and strengthen the economic base of the Craig/Moffat region.

Also on the agenda is the development of a cooperative regional economic development strategy in the Yampa Valley.

Though it's early, steps have already been taken to achieve all those objectives.

"I was looking at all the things that have happened in the last year and we've accomplished a lot. I think we've got a lot of momentum going," EDP board chairman Scott Cook said.

Now that the partnership has demonstrated its ability to overcome the negativity of the past and the strength to push forward and beyond it to establish positive goals, it is hoped that community members and business owners take another look at this group and its goals and step on board to help them fund an effort to strengthen and diversify Moffat County's economy for the benefit of all.

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