Our View: Jump starting smart growth

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Craig Editorial Board

  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Jennifer L. Grubbs, newspaper representative
  • Bridget Manley, newspaper representative
  • Allan Reishus, community representative
  • Chris Runyan, community representative
  • Ken Wergin, community representative

— Craig has an opportunity to make an investment in future growth and long-term profits.

This editorial board believes the city should take advantage of it.

We applaud the Craig City Council's decision to reconsider offering government incentives to companies looking to move here and create well-paying jobs that provide the primary source of income for a family.

These jobs are usually found in industries such as mining or manufacturing, as opposed to retail occupations, which are usually classified as secondary jobs.

That said, board members wrestled with the possible pitfalls of this arrangement before coming to a consensus.

That pre-existing Craig companies established themselves without a leg-up from the local government didn't escape the board's attention. Neither did the fact that more businesses would create more competition for local commerce.

And, finally, there's the issue on nearly everyone's mind: the economy.

With the local economy based largely on an energy industry prone to boom-and-bust cycles and the national economy facing the possibility of recession, now may not seem the time to begin courting new businesses.

But, considering changes that are happening in this area, we think Craig would do well to continue building its economic base. And offering incentives, including office space and land for business facilities, is a means to that end.

We support a variety of incentives, including discounts on land sales to potential companies and creating a business incubator, or temporary office space businesses could use while they are starting up.

But these options are not, nor should they be, a handout.

By accepting help from local government, businesses in turn must be held accountable for creating a viable business plan, providing a set number of primary jobs and staying in the area for a minimum length of time.

Also, elected officials would need to evaluate fully companies eligible for incentives on a case-by-case basis using a formal policy.

Still, we maintain that providing business enticements is something those officials should seriously consider.

Craig may soon have an opportunity to exercise its ability to draw in new businesses.

For example, an Austrian-based homebuilding company is eyeing Craig as a potential site for its new plant, according to a report from Darcy Trask, Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership director, to Craig City Council members last week,.

The city already owns a 17-acre parcel on First Street zoned light industrial, which could host this or a similar business. This arrangement would give Craig an opportunity to control its own growth, dictating where and how companies can and cannot develop in the city.

And, if the company should choose to come here, it would bring new customers for existing businesses with them, boosting Craig's population, tax base, school enrollment and overall economy.

For instance, employees will need schools for their children, a hospital where they can receive medical care and restaurants to eat in.

Craig has much to offer, including a new hospital, capital upgrades across the Moffat County School District, a new middle school and up-and-coming new Colorado Northwestern Community College campus. We believe these developments will make Craig a welcoming place for new companies and their employees.

The board understands local companies might be anxious about new businesses coming in and changing the current business climate.

But the time has come to recognize that Craig is in a competition - and it's no longer just between individual local businesses.

As Trask's report indicates, Craig and Moffat County now are vying for businesses and the benefits they could offer on a global scale.

If what they want is not available here, they will take their company, and the associated jobs and employees, somewhere else.

It's time to set aside worries about competition in favor of the common good, which includes smart economic growth aided by government incentives where appropriate.

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