When coming to Craig for the first time, prospective business owner Maurits de Blank didn't like what he saw. In fact, his first reaction was to turn around and head back the way he came.
"Seriously, my first impression of Craig was horrible," said de Blank, a developer behind Alpine Apartments' conversion into the city's first condominiums. "I wanted to turn around. It just looked dirty."
But de Blank was patient and didn't base his final decision off a quick glance. He had to look beneath the surface, but he found the city's charm.
"This town is going to fly," he said. "There are a lot of positive things happening. That's why I bought (Alpine)."
But, not all potential new business owners are as open-minded as de Blank. And, for that reason, business leaders from the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership are planning to work cooperatively with other agencies -- city, county and Chamber of Commerce -- to help with efforts to beautify dilapidated areas of the city.
Conversation at Wednesday's annual board meeting steered from goals for 2006-07 to cleaning up Craig -- a priority and area of emphasis for city leaders in recent months -- in an attempt to lure new businesses.
"We all get used to the trash, but that doesn't mean we have to like it," board president Scott Cook said.
EDP leaders broached a gamut of avenues to help improve the city's aesthetic qualities. Those possibilities included organizing a committee that would focus specifically on clean-up, applying for grant money to pay for new projects and putting forth an informational campaign.
Craig City Council recently stiffened its nuisance code policies to bring about the change the EDP discussed Wednesday. The city's officers can enforce the code policies, not make enhancements.
EDP members said they'd like to see efforts made to not just clean up blighted areas, but to improve them.
City Council member Joe Herod told the EDP that he thinks a renewed effort to improve the city is worthwhile, especially for the business community. But, he also cautioned members by saying that change takes time.
"I think we all want the same things, but this isn't going to happen tomorrow or in five years," Herod said. "You just can't make people change overnight."
EDP director Tim Gibbs was directed Wednesday to organize a meeting with local leaders to discuss where the organization might be of use. That meeting will take place in the next month or two, he said.
"I think we want to fill in the blanks and see where we can help," Gibbs said.
Other 2006-07 goals established by members Wednesday include:
- Growing membership from 30 to 45 businesses,
- Strengthening ties to the community and
- Creating and attracting quality employment for area residents.
Gibbs, who's in his first year with the organization, said Craig and Moffat County is drawing interest from several businesses.
"The amount of activity we have in town has grown exponentially even since I've been here," Gibbs said. "In the next few months, I think we're going to celebrate some of this activity with some successes.
"I look forward to next year. I think you will see substantial growth throughout the county."