EDP looks at promoting local contractors

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— At issue for the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board is how it will balance attracting new businesses and developing existing ones.

Both are part of EDP's mission goals.

Whether the group should spend time and resources promoting local companies, as opposed to attracting a new primary job source, came up at EDP's 2008 Annual Meeting on Wednesday.

The EDP board and some member business representatives discussed a proposal for the board to somehow promote local contracting companies to new developers coming into Moffat County.

The board decided to hold off action until more thought could be given toward whether that would be the best use of EDP resources, or whether any action it could take on the matter would be effective.

In the past, board members have said effective economic development means a combined effort to attract new businesses and help develop existing ones. A stronger local economy will make the area more desirable, they said.

Promoting local construction companies and subcontractors is something that might serve the larger purposes of EDP, Executive Specialist Darcy Trask said.

"It's almost like a mass-scale 'buy local,'" she said.

EDP board member Mike Anson, who also owns Anson Excavating & Pipe, said he thought the more money goes into local pockets, the better the community benefits.

Dave DeRose, Masterworks Mechanical, owner and EDP member, said he thought EDP would better serve the community focusing on other projects.

"You are wasting your time doing this, in my opinion," DeRose said. "When you look around the community of Craig at the contractors big enough to handle this kind of work, and they're full-up."

DeRose said he wouldn't want to ask non-local companies to spend time calling local ones when they might not be able to help.

Anson said that smaller companies would be better able to bid on large projects if the groups taking bids would break up their projects into different bids.

Large projects require companies to lock up a lot of money in performance bonds, he said, which can become unaffordable for local companies.

Jay Oxley, EDP board co-vice chairman and TLC Carpet owner, said that although projects such as The Memorial Hospital's and the Moffat County School District's may very well be too large, other projects are doable.

"There's a lot of other things going on," Oxley said, "like new subdivisions coming in that local electricians and plumbers could work on."

DeRose said that's not what EDP should focus on.

"I want EDP to go bring primary sources of jobs into the community," he said. "I don't need EDP going about and telling people about Masterworks Mechanical because I take care of that myself."

Board chairman Scott Cook said the idea could take away from EDP's other goals, but it warranted consideration.

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