Editorial: Ignorance at a cost

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Craig Editorial Board, Jan. to March 2012

  • Al Cashion, community representative
  • Jeff Pleasant, community representative
  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Bridget Manley, newspaper representative
  • Chris Nichols, community representative
  • Josh Roberts, newspaper representative

Our View

Residents should attend today’s economic update because education is the first step toward building Moffat County’s economy.

Craig and Moffat County’s economy can grow and diversify.

Or, it can stagnate and eventually wither.

Which of these scenarios plays out depends largely on what you — the resident who lives and works here — know about the local economy.

The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership is putting on an economic update today at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion. It’s a valuable opportunity to learn what the local economy looks like now and where it could go in the future.

The Editorial Board encourages residents from all types of industries and backgrounds to attend. Education is key to ensuring Craig and Moffat County’s economic health, and this event is a great place to start.

The economic update provides a chance to learn about Colorado’s demography and the future of the economy from the experts.

Colorado state demographer Elizabeth Garner is scheduled to speak at 10:45 a.m., followed by Dr. Carl Steidtmann, chief economist and director of consumer business at New York City-based Deloitte Research, at 12:15 p.m.

It’s not often speakers with such expertise come to Moffat County, and EDP deserves praise for making this event happen.

But, it won’t do any good if residents don’t attend.

Education is especially crucial at this juncture, when the economic future of this region and the nation is uncertain.

Yes, there’s the robust mining industry, which is the lifeblood of the region’s economy. But what happens if the mines close?

Take the Empire Mine, south of Craig, which closed in 1995 because its coal couldn’t compete with the higher Btu coal from other mines in the state.

At some point, Twentymile Mine operations are scheduled to move south in Rio Blanco County. Workers will probably remain in the area, but the move will take a huge chunk of change away from Moffat County’s coffers.

Some officials have touted tourism as a way to diversify the economy, but it’s not the cure-all. Tourism can supplement the region’s revenue stream, but relying on such a fickle and fleeting industry won’t guarantee security.

So what’s the alternative?

There are no easy answers to that question, but there are some places to start, like getting leaders who are serious about expanding and maintaining the local economy.

In last week’s Craig Daily Press question of the week, 153 respondents, or 71 percent, said local officials aren’t doing enough to grow and preserve the county’s economic future.

Although this poll isn’t scientific, it’s interesting that the majority of the people who bothered to cast a vote gave local officials the thumbs-down.

The other key is learning about the economy and the factors that drive it. And unless the community as a whole gets informed on these issues, the region’s economy will remain vulnerable to sudden and crippling changes in its core industries.

That’s a high price to pay for ignorance.

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