'Agreement in theory'

Talks aim to combine groups at Visitor Center


— According to the stakeholders, combining the Craig Chamber of Commerce, Moffat County Tourism Association and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership into one building makes sense.

Here is an opportunity, Chamber Executive Director Christina Currie said, to show the community what these groups are capable of, and fulfill challenges residents levied against them.

Representing the Chamber along with board member Gene Bilodeau, Currie met with MCTA and EDP representatives Tuesday.

They sat down collectively to discuss the possibility of the three groups coming together and maintaining offices in the Moffat County Visitor Center.

For now, they are separate.

The Chamber owns and operates the Visitor Center building, while EDP keeps an office at Craig City Hall and MCTA is under contract for an office at the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

"We're at a really exciting stage where we can show the community - and give the community exactly what they want," Currie said, "that we don't duplicate all services, we know where we do and we can work together on those and we can communicate with each other."

With two representatives from each group, the committee left the meeting with an "agreement in theory" to pursue the idea, Currie said.

That does not mean anyone will go back to his or her board this month and request funding or commit to the project, she added.

MCTA board member Cindy Looper said she has never had a problem with any combination of the three groups working out of the same building. Her concern is that there would be a loss of independence for some.

That issue was thoroughly addressed at the meeting, she said.

The representatives who assembled Tuesday "want to make sure everybody knew we weren't trying to get all businesses under the Chamber," Looper said. "If anyone asks us, we'll tell them that."

She also added some MCTA representatives asked Chamber officials if they could use some current office space at the Visitor Center, but those officials said current space limits would strain the office.

Stakeholders from all three groups believe joining up at the Visitor Center would require a renovation project to expand the building.

EDP board chairman Scott Cook said his group's only concern is financing.

"From a conceptual standpoint, I think it makes a lot of sense to have the three group's together," Cook said. "Money-wise, the EDP is not in a place financially where we can come up with extra money for a new building or for rent."

EDP doesn't currently pay for it office space or utilities at Craig City Hall.

Another meeting is tentatively scheduled for May, provided the three boards approve the concept and allow for the project to move forward. That approval would allow the joint committee to investigate the financial and operational feasibility of combining the groups at the Visitor Center, Currie said.

She and Looper added that joint committee members hope to have Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission members attend the May meeting.

Government representatives could offer - in addition to their suggestions regarding the project - possible options for grant funding to pursue, Looper said.

Of course, she added, this is the project's infancy, and any talk of a dollar amount is premature.

"You can't really talk about a dollar amount until you have a drawing" for a new building, Looper said.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com


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