Partnership pursues funding, goals

— The Economic Development Partnership found at its Wednesday meeting that it lacked funding to hire a suitable director and still finance its community goals.

The partnership has been without a director for four months and has not collected dues or been able to move forward with various goals. Without a director, there has not been a leader to take the partnership in productive directions, said board members.

The board believes a volunteer would not have enough time or resources to be effective in attracting new businesses or promoting local ones.

"We need to get on or get off," said Scott Cook, EDP chairman. "We need to find if there will be money. If this position becomes volunteer, then that changes our realistic goals."

Cook backed off a statement he previously made that the partnership would become a volunteer organization without local government funding.

Proposed ways to increase funding included planning to better recruit the business community, collecting more dues from more businesses or finding some other way to fund projects through the community.

The board plans to present an official funding proposal to the City Council and county commissioners in the beginning of August.

Board members were not as concerned with getting support from the city as they were with getting it from the county. Members commented that county commissioners had not been attending partnership meetings.

In the interim, EDP plans to hire an administrative assistant to do billing and other executive tasks.

Members at the meeting commented that previous directors did not do enough networking or show leadership to create results.

Board members continued to stress the importance of building up local commerce in addition to seeking new, outside development.

"Local business will attract new business," board member Audrey Danner said. "Nobody will want to move here if they see businesses open half days, or windows shuttered. We are trying to build a better community. That has always been our goal."

Funding also plays into part of the partnership's goals, which include looking past the current economic situation, and planning for the future.

"Craig is going through a little boom right now, and we need to keep this economic engine going," board member Marianna Raftopoulos said. "We can't just rely on natural resources.

"Rifle has all kinds of oil and gas money coming in, but they still don't have enough money for all the things they want to do."

In other EDP news, the partnership moved a new mission statement that calls on "business, government, community institutions and citizens" to promote "primary job businesses." The idea is to focus on recruiting better-paying manufacturing jobs as opposed to service industry jobs.

An example used was to bring in a shampoo manufacturer rather than a hairdresser.

The partnership briefly discussed Craig's tourism "branding" issue, a program to market the area across the country modeled after Steamboat Springs, which calls itself "Ski Town USA."

The three directors and three chairs from each of the EDP, Chamber of Commerce and Mof-fat County Tourism Association will meet tomorrow at the community college to discuss branding and to work out each organization's boundaries regarding what kinds of programs and initiatives each will pursue.

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