City, county work to level economic playing field

Competition to get certain companies to locate in a specific county is fierce. And those companies know it.

That's why they feel free to demand that area leaders do their research for them.

Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership Director Tom Flavin offered a recent example: A bottling company interested in relocating requested maps of available sites that would not require large amounts of dirt work, descriptions of the impact fees associated with each site, the potential annual cost for all utilities, an assessment of the work force, a list of other area companies, cost of living data, climate information, the area's tax structure, available state and local incentives, environmental impact restrictions, building and permitting requirements and costs and state and local business trends.

And that wasn't all. The request, filtered through the state Office of Economic Development, was seven pages long and was due four days from receipt.

"I was amazed at what a company might want to know," EDP board president Scott Cook said. "We really have to do our homework."

In exchange, the winning county got a "world class" automated production facility providing 80 to 100 jobs.

The bottling company established itself in Weld County, which provided, among other things, $3 million in incentives.

Being able to successfully recruit businesses to Moffat County means being prepared, Flavin said.

"As part of our business recruitment process, we decided we needed to know where we're competitive," he said. "If we don't, we're just wasting our marketing dollars."

Flavin partnered with city and county officials to assess Moffat County's competitiveness compared to other counties in providing an easily navigated, pro-business climate.

"It's important to understand our strengths and weaknesses and make changes where needed," Flavin said.

Several people were assigned information-gathering duties so that a comprehensive report could be compiled. By Nov. 1, Flavin expects to have tax, fee and permit information as well as utility costs, educational offerings, communications infrastructure and housing availability.

The EDP also will survey incentive formulas to present to the city and county for consideration.

"I think the EDP will at least open a conversation about incentives and how (the city and county) feel about incentives philosophically," City Manager Jim Ferree said. "I think we're open to any suggestion on how we might improve the business climate."

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