City, county looking for an improved EDP

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Craig and Moffat County officials said they are satisfied with work being done by the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership, but are looking for improved performance in the future.

Combined, the city and county contribute $44,000 to EDP, which is headquartered in the basement of Craig City Hall. Both municipalities hosted separate meetings with the organization in February.

The City Council was given a quarterly update from EDP director Tim Gibbs on Feb. 13. The county commission was briefed a week later, on Feb. 20.

Gibbs reported to the council that EDP is in the process of developing goals and objectives for 2007.

He said projects for the year include forming a small business counseling service, creating a small business directory, developing a video conferencing facility in Craig and learning the results of an economic development community assessment.

Gibbs also described EDP as "the lead recruitment agency for quality employment for the residents of Craig and Moffat County." He said the agency is targeting "specific areas that we feel strongly make sense to be in Craig."

City Council member Joe Herod serves as liaison between the council and the EDP board. He said the organization and its mission are a work in progress.

"I don't think we're dissatisfied," Herod said. "We're just working on some improved direction for them."

At the meeting with the county Feb. 20, EDP officials said confidentiality issues prevent them from commenting on business recruitment. County commissioner Tom Mathers questioned the organization and whether the county was getting results for its money.

"The county funds this group and I want to know what is going on and what projects Tim is working on," Mathers said. "Who is holding him accountable? I want to know the direction of the board instead of hearing it is confidential or I can't tell you."

EDP board member Dave Fleming said agency accomplishments are difficult to quantify.

"There are no clear cut answers to EDP," Fleming said. "The Chamber and Tourism Association has a specific purpose. EDP's purpose is about bringing businesses here and enhancing them and giving them tools. We have done some good things. At this point in time we are moving forward and making good decisions. ... We don't have a clear-cut report card that says yes we have or haven't done our job."

Gibbs reassured the commission that EDP is making progress.

"I am a recruiter and that is what I am best suited for," Gibbs said. "We are developing programs. We develop regional and state relationships. We can do a better job communicating. The EDP executive board knows what projects are being worked on, but confidentiality is an issue. We are doing good things and we going to get better."

Like Herod, Moffat County commission chairman Saed Tayyara said the county is committed to funding EDP this year and is content with the organization's work thus far. However, he said, the commissioners endorse, much like city officials, EDP ironing out cooperative efforts with the Craig Chamber of Commerce and the Moffat County Tourism Association.

"Our hope is they can get together and somehow understand how to cooperate and work together to move forward and target what our county needs," Tayyara said.

Craig Mayor Don Jones said the city has contributed $25,000 to $30,000 to EDP for several years. In that time, the organization has had a revolving door of directors, and Jones said EDP seems to be stabilizing with Gibbs and a quality board of directors.

"It's the strongest board they've had since I've been on the council," said Jones, who was first elected in 1995. "We have more businessmen and community businesses invol-ved."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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