A week ago, a panel of about 20 speakers paid a visit to the "Fueling Thought: Trends in Energy" forum at the Holiday Inn of Craig, offering community members and local officials a tutorial on what's to be expected with the anticipated energy boom in coming years.
The ambitious forum, coordinated and sponsored by Yampa Valley Partners, lived up to its billing as an informative platform, and Partners, particularly executive director Audrey Danner, should be commended for being the architect of such a worthwhile venture.
A central theme of the forum -- and there were many -- was this: Craig and Moffat County can expect a flood of revenue to hit the area in coming years. The anticipated boom previously has been called an "economic tsunami."
Which begs the question: What will be done with this increase in revenue streams?
The editorial board considered this question during its Monday meeting and came to the following conclusion. The new money should be spent on re-investing in the community and diversifying the local economy so it becomes self-sustaining, rather than be left to the boom or bust scenarios that have plagued our community in past eras.
For many years, Craig and Moffat County's economic fate have been tied to the whims of energy companies, and for the most part that relationship has paid dividends by creating a tax base and jobs.
But, the end will come to this relationship someday, and when it does, will we be left standing at the alter?
Preparing now by funneling energy-created tax dollars into education, infrastructure, business incentives, new business recruitment and existing business expansion, deters such a problem from happening.
It brings about a new era of commercial and retail business, keeps the pipeline for new businesses open, and ultimately ties our fate to more than one entity.
Keep in mind, this is where our community wants to go anyway.
It's difficult to remember a time Craig and Moffat County has had as much momentum, as much positive development, occurring as it does now.
Look around: walls are going up at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter, infrastructure is going in at the new The Memorial Hospital, a proposal has been made for a new Colorado Northwestern Community College campus, thousands of outsiders are coming into town via tourism and hunting, and of course, as the forum told us, energy is coming.
These are not the hoof prints of a lethargic community, but evidence the outside world has noticed Craig.
Our future is now, and without the correct handling of new money, this golden opportunity will be lost, squandered to traditional governmental errors -- poor planning, short-sighted vision and mismanagement.
Credit Yampa Valley Partners for giving our community a glimpse of what lies down the road. Hope that your local officials share that same sense of foresight.