On Friday, several local business leaders traveled to Fruita, where they represented Moffat County in a discussion with Gov. John Hickenlooper about a plan to improve the state’s economy.
Over the weekend, Hickenlooper, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, Reeves Brown, executive director of the Department of Local Affairs, and Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, participated in eight meetings around the state centered on economic development.
The meetings conclude today in Limon and Loveland.
Darcy Trask, director of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, presented on Moffat County’s behalf Friday. Moffat County was one of 11 Western Slope counties represented at the meeting.
Trask said representatives for the 11 counties were asked to share information about their respective county’s current economic development plans and thoughts on the state’s plan.
One of the major points Trask said she hit on was concerns from the local energy industry, which has grown increasingly worried by regulations, most notably Colorado House Bill 10-1365, the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act.
“I said that we’d basically been kicked in the teeth in the regulatory world this year,” Trask said.
She also talked about EDP, which developed an economic development plan two-and-a-half years ago.
The plan was based on an economic assessment by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The meeting was attended by other members of the community, including EDP Board member Chris Jones and Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner.
Jones said he left the meeting cautiously optimistic about Hickenlooper’s views on energy.
“One message that governor Hickenlooper stated in his closing remarks was that he thinks the need for clean coal technology is going to be a prominent need going forward,” Jones said. “Which was refreshing because I think that under (former Gov. Bill) Ritter it was just alternative energies and governor Hickenlooper seemed to indicate, ‘Hey, why upset the apple cart with what we have an abundance of here? Why don’t we try to use that resource in a cleaner technology?’”
After the meetings, it is left to the counties to complete an economic development plan, which will then be compiled for regional and state plans.
Trask was unsure of when the deadline was to have local plans completed, but regional reports are expected in May. Trask said EDP currently has an economic development plan, meaning the county is perhaps more prepared than others.
“One of the nice things is we’re significantly more ready because our plan is done,” Trask said. “It needs a little updating because this is a different kind of use than we use to guide our work, but it’s very close.
“We feel really lucky that we spent a good amount of time a couple of years ago on it, so we’re not scrambling now.”