EDP discusses future project with city, county

Officials: Education of building processes important to economic growth

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The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership met Tuesday with members of the Craig City Council and Moffat County commissioner Audrey Danner to hear feedback, clear misconceptions and find a direction for EDP’s upcoming BUILD project.

The major project planned by EDP this year is designed to help business owners looking to build or expand better understand the city and county building processes.

After hearing feedback during Tuesday’s workshop, EDP director Darcy Trask said the project could substantially change in focus and direction.

It was decided that Craig City Manager Jim Ferree and Trask would meet to compile ideas and find a way to move the project forward with consideration to the input provided at the workshop.

Trask said ideas that could be part of the project include implementing a “fast track” system for businesses to streamline the building process and using EDP as an “information broker” to help people understand the process.

EDP hopes to make recommendations about how the planning process could be more business-friendly, Trask said.

The project was developed after a state economic assessment of the area and local business surveys — conducted by EDP — determined that there was a perception among businesses that the planning process is difficult or that there were things in the planning and building codes that could be changed to make it easier on businesses, Trask said.

Although EDP didn’t provide specific examples of business concerns, the goal of the workshop wasn’t to determine whether problems found in the surveys and assessment were perceived or real, Trask said. Rather, the goal was to hear feedback on the direction of the project as a whole, she said.

“I think it was very important to hear from (local officials) and … it will help us move forward in a way that is more effective,” Trask said.

At the start of the workshop, however, several city officials had misconceptions that EDP “wanted to pick apart the land use and build codes,” Trask said.

Craig Mayor Don Jones was hesitant at first about the project, citing work that was put into current planning and zoning codes, which were developed by looking at other communities.

He said picking through the codes would not be a wise use of EDP’s time.

“We know that this document is a work in progress … but there is always room for improvement,” he said.

It was agreed at the workshop that the focus of the project should be to make it easier for small businesses wanting to build or expand to understand codes business owners may have no experience with.

“The small-business man does-

n’t have all the resources to know what to do, so it puts him behind the table,” council member Joe Herod said. “The problem here that I see is that the local people don’t know what to do, and they need to

be educated.”

Council member Jennifer Riley said educating businesses about the planning process could help. However, education goes only so far, she said.

“None of us actually knows where the difficulty is,” she said. “We hear through the grapevine … people who said, ‘This is a terrible place; this is hard; we can’t get anything through.’ But as several people stated in the meeting (Tuesday), nobody comes forward with specifics.

“It is hard to solve a problem or to say that education will solve the problem if we don’t know what the true problems are.”

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or briansmith@craigdailypress.com.

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