EDP grants have effect

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After awarding two new Growing Local Business grants Wednesday, Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership board members heard two examples of just how successful the first round of grants was.

Jim Ross, of Intermountain Real Estate, was grateful to the board for the $6,500 grant that allows him to compile more than 25,000 pages of documentation in preparation of his plans to re-permit a former uranium mine on his property to accept uranium tailings.

Ross said a Utah-based pit on which he models his business contributes $7 million a year in tipping fees to county coffers.

The EDP grant allowed him to collaborate with Colorado Northwestern Community College to educate his work force on scanning, editing and reformatting documentation he has received.

Ross said he hopes a second EDP grant will allow him to use his documentation to facilitate the permitting process.

Ross' presentation drew heated questions about whether the community would back the plan.

"I don't think our funding of this was to endorse the science," EDP board President Scott Cook said. "It was to invest from a business standpoint."

Ross rebutted questions about toxicity and health worries by saying the health hazard was created when the pit was mined in the 1950s, and environmental science has advanced since then.

"The potential health hazards will actually be less when this is done," he said.

Bernie Rose also updated the board about his hopes to build a foundry and casting studio in Craig. He was granted funds to assess the feasibility of what the project consultant called a "visionary" plan.

At the end of the project, Rose will know whether Craig can support the concept and have a business model as well as a list of private lenders, foundations or public agencies for project funding.

The Growing Local Businesses program makes educational, consulting and construction resources available to Moffat County businesses.

The EDP uses a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the program.

Of that, the EDP withheld $10,000 for administrative costs and put $5,000 into a technical assistance contingency fund, making $35,000 available to businesses.

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