Editorial: Shaping our future

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It’s no secret that we’re living in a tough economy today, and one made potentially tougher on our small, energy-dependent community by the recent passage of Colorado House Bill 10-1365, fraudulently known as the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act.

As witnessed by this act — and compounded by the apparent failure of President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill to do anything resembling jump-starting our economy — it can be safely said that Craig and Moffat County isn’t going to get any aid from the state and federal government in re-invigorating the local economy or job market.

Perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

After all, this community’s leaders and residents have often prided themselves on being independent and maintaining local control without state and/or federal interference.

Well, wish granted.

Big brother isn’t going to come in and help our economy.

The federal government aimed and missed with the stimulus package. The state legislature backed a bill that’s all the way bad for coal miners.

If our governing bodies and agencies — from the Moffat County Commission to the Craig City Council to the three groups whose goals intersect with having a prosperous community — are truly looking out for the best interests of the residents they serve, they’ll uses these examples as plain-as-day evidence that our economy is our problem, and ours alone to fix.

They will stop posturing, dabbling in and messing around the edges of economic development, the Editorial Board contends, and get serious about diversifying, and quickly.

But seriously, this board does not mean throwing more tax money to fund organizations that have shown mixed results. It means getting aggressive with recruitment and incentive packages. It means zeroing in on economic development as the top agenda item.

That’s hardly been the case so far.

The Craig City Council, it should be noted, has made a wise and commendable decision in moving forward with a 6.9-percent lodging tax that, if approved by voters, will re-invest back into the city.

But, this is only a partial measure. It keeps largely out-of-town dollars here at home. It does little to provide jobs or extend the tax base.

More has to be done to get businesses — be they large or small employers — to consider our community as an attractive destination.

It’s doubtful many of our leaders can honestly say economic development has been at the top of their priority list.

It’s doubtful our community can say it has done all it can to create and ensure its own future.

Without proactive measures from within, our future economic viability will continue to be left to the whims of outside power brokers, and state and federal regulations.

We’ve heard our leaders’ rhetoric before about working for the betterment of the community. Now, in the midst of a troubled economy, on the heels of another setback and in need of economic shot in the arm, the Editorial Board is wondering if they’re actually willing to do something about it.

Comments

onewhocares 4 years, 7 months ago

Beautifully said Editorial Board--- that was perfectly stated. If the community leaders don't head your advice, this town can & will literally end up like Detroit. Deserted with nothing to offer the community or visitors. A large number of us will be forced to literally walk away from our homes that have zero value without an economy.

Thank you for such a good letter & hopefully lighting a fire under their bottoms.

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McGruber 4 years, 7 months ago

I know this is a little off topic but can someone please explain why area coal mines can not sell their coal to power plants besides those on the front range?

I assume its a cost of transportation issue but there does not seem to be a lack of demand for coal? Looking for facts not opinions, thanks

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furrball 4 years, 7 months ago

Good editorial! It rings the bell of truth. However it also rings two nasty words I feel many MC residents aren't used to opening their ears to, diversification and progress. Until we can grow beyond the coal and cowboy identity Craig holds onto, we're just going to drive the youth and upcoming talent into more open minded communities with more possibilities and opportunities to succeed in this world we live in today. The bare-knuckled truth is that nearly 50 percent of residents in MC are over 55 and there is not nearly enough young blood in the area to imagine supporting such a burden in 20 years when the coal industry really hits the skids. I'm absolutely not a tree-hugging hippie with idealist thoughts in my mind... I'm a realist acknowledging the serious threats to a coal based community. Agree with them or not, it's certainly time to produce more than what we can extract from the ground if there's hope from preventing Craig from becoming the next future ghost town of America.

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Cole White 4 years, 7 months ago

I would be interested in what type of industry the editorial board has in mind that would be a good fit for our county. I would be even more interested in what type of industry the editorial board has in mind that would be interested in Craig.

I don't know that property tax breaks, free land, etc would entice many if any companies to relocate or start up in an area that is 100 miles from the nearest interstate and two hundred miles from the nearest metro area. And if coal power is eliminated then the prospect of cheap power is also gone. Since Craig has some of the highest gas prices in the West it will be even more difficult to attrack businesses to relocate here. And if you add the price of housing and the existing prevaling wages in this area a business who does their homework would know that their isn't an affordable workforce or affordable housing for lower paying jobs.

Right now there are hundreds of areas in the midwest who have tax incentives, building incentives, interest free loans, etc etc etc to offer new start up businesses and tons of cheap out of work labor to supply it with. So why would any new business choose to start up or relocate to Craig?

So I put it back out there. What type of business or industry is going to relocate to Craig? Our region knows two things, Energy and Agriculture and if we do not leverage those two things we don't stand a chance. Other areas are better suited for wind and solar so why build those things here? Oil, gas, and coal are the only assets we have and about the only thing we have to offer the outside world. Eventually we will either have to tap that energy and leverage our reserves if we want to survive. Dreaming and planning that outside businesses and new start up companies are going to come in and diversify us and save our economy is a pipe dream at best.

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onewhocares 4 years, 7 months ago

Wow, both furrball and highway 1340 made some really accurate assessments, leading one to see, the only residents that will be left in Moffat are the ranchers, as the times change and the power industry shifts. You are right highway 1340, if I was a business owner I wouldn't consider Craig for the very reasons you listed.

That means it's time for all of us to start planning for another future elsewhere & to consider the possibility we are all going to lose the money invested in our homes, if our local market does not change. Thanks for your harsh, but brutally true letters.

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olivia1002 4 years, 7 months ago

The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.

Olivia ..............................................

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