EDP seeks funding

Partnership hopes to drive membership, donations

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Members of the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership will see an increase in annual membership fees in 2005 as a result of the Partnership's attempt to increase funding and balance public and private investment in the organization.

The increase will impact new members this year.

"It was proposed because we have to bring more resources into the organization if we're going to provide the kind of programs we intend on providing," Director Tom Flavin said.

Before the fee structure was reorganized, memberships to the EDP started at $250 and went up according to the businesses' preferences. Any investment of $250 or more earned that business one vote to elect the Partnership's board of directors and the chance to nominate someone from the business to serve on the board.

The new fee structure doesn't change the amount of votes any business has.

What it will do, Flavin hopes, is move the Partnership away from being almost fully funded by the city and county and into being a business-funded organization that serves the business community.

"We wanted to have a more structured investment level that would create equity among those who are contributing to the organization," Flavin said.

The city contributes $30,000 to the EDP and the county $20,000 toward an annual budget of approximately $70,000.

Flavin's goal is to increase private contributions to at least 50 percent of the total this year and reach an eventual goal of 70 percent to 80 percent.

A membership committee has been established and key industry groups defined.

Each will receive a marketing packet that Flavin hopes will lead to a person-to-person discussion on the benefits the EDP will have on the community.

In exchange for increased fees, EDP board president Scott Cook hopes existing business will see increased value from the EDP as it works toward a three-pronged goal of helping existing businesses, recruiting new businesses and helping residents start new businesses.

Flavin said it may be awhile before those goals are measurable, but he expects to eventually track them through jobs created, increased tax revenue and increased assessed valuation.

"We're a nonprofit organization, but we don't expect businesses to join just to be good corporate citizens," he said. "We need to provide some value.

"We eventually hope to identify specific economic improvements that have resulted from programs we've put into place."

Flavin said current EDP members have been informed of the change to the fee structure, and while no one has dropped their membership, there have been some complaints.

"In the limited feedback I've had, there's some concern, which we will address and demonstrate the value of the organization not only to them as a member, but to them as a business in the community," he said.

Cook said increased fees will help the partnership develop a plan for dealing with business relocation inquiries and help existing businesses, through educational programs and speakers.

Georgina McAnnally, owner of American Northwest Realty, is one member whose dues will increase in 205, but it's an investment she's happy to make.

"I believe economic development is the best thing for the community and I believe that we need to pitch in and make it happen."

McAnnally is also an EDP board member.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210

or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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