EDP looks at ways to find business capital

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At its Wednesday meeting, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board passed a motion to give preference on bid contracts to EDP members. The board will award similar bids to EDP members if their price is within 10 percent of another bid from a nonmember.

— It takes money to make money.

The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership has drawn interest from a few businesses and local entrepreneurs looking for capital to relocate or build an upstart venture.

"To me, nothing happens without money," EDP board President Scott Cook said.

The problem is, as the EDP

discussed at its meeting Wednesday, the organization has neither the funds to provide nor the funds to hire an outside consultant.

"I think the short answer at this point may be the EDP has fairly limited resources, and (those projects) may just be a level of community support we're not ready for yet," EDP Director Darcy Trask said.

The level the board discussed was in the millions.

Mid-sized companies and other light manufacturing ventures need sizable investments. Cook talked about one such company with need in the range of $15 million.

Trask said she had contacted financial consultants in Colorado Springs and in the Yampa Valley, one of which, Steamboat Springs-based Good-Bohlen, said its typical rate is $4,000 a day.

"I didn't think it would be that much to help people find money," Cook said, "but when you get someone $15 million, how much do you pay for that?"

It's unfortunate that there are quality projects out there, interested in Moffat County, that need more than EDP can give at this time, Trask said.

It's unclear how the board can get to the point where it can actively help business interests find investment capital.

Until then, Cook said he knows the community is going to question what the EDP is capable of doing.

"That's our dilemma, too," he said. "A lot of (local entrepreneurs) may have a business plan and that's the only asset they have. How can they go in and get a bank loan when they have nothing to loan against?"

The board discussed several possibilities for finding money besides hiring consultants.

One is to set up an "angel network," where the EDP would "hook the ideas up with the

money," Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said.

EDP would organize an open meeting and invite those with business plans to present their ideas to potential investors.

There is local money, board members said, and some in Moffat County may hear an idea and like it.

The board thought that could be an effective course of action but that it also would present liability problems between EDP and investors.

Or, the board could seek outside grants from government agencies such as state offices or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other non-profits such as the El Pomar Foundation.

Trask said EDP is limited because her contract calls for a 24-hour workweek.

There's not enough time to do everything she does in preparing a Moffat County portfolio for investors, organizing local business seminars and writing grants, too, she said.

Extra funding could help. The money could be earmarked to pay for grant writing or provide matching dollars, she said.

The board would like Moffat County to help supply additional funding and approve a $20,000 request.

Mathers said he could not speak for the Commission, but the county likely won't have extra dollars next year.

County officials expect about $495,000 less in property-tax revenue from 2008 than 2007.

"I support EDP," he said. "I think it's finally going in the right direction, even though it's a scattered direction. It's got to be the hardest thing to pick something out of the air and make it happen.

"I want you to go ahead and present this (to the Commission). Do we have the $20,000 to put out? I don't know about that."

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

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