EDP mulls business incubator advisory board


In other action ...

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Board:

• Approved going with Optimum Voice for phone and Internet service at the business incubator for up $150 per month.

• Approved buying a new all in one printer for the business incubator.

• Approved amending the bylaws to allow proxy voting to be conducted via email.

• Approved enterprise zone memorandum of understanding with the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado.

• Approved applying for an EDP credit card with a $5,000 limit for EDP expenses.

• Approved having Scott Cook, Chris Jones and Alisa Corey provide oversight of EDP expenses.

• Approved paying one-half of Betsy Nauman Cook’s cell phone bill, rather than keeping an additional phone for EDP business.

• Approved making reservations for two people to attend April 25-27 Economic Development Council of Colorado conference in Estes Park.

— EDP Board members Gene Bilodeau and Robert Wiens, and county liaison Audrey Danner were absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

Quotable

“It is extremely important to me to maintain transparency. If we have the same board for the EDP and for the incubator it looks suspicious, it looks like there’s cronyism.”

— Betsy Nauman Cook, director of the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership

Betsy Nauman Cook was at the helm Tuesday of her first Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership meeting since replacing Darcy Owens-Trask last month.

In addition to addressing minor housekeeping issues, Cook said priority number one is moving into and opening the Marianna Raftopoulos One-Stop Business Incubator, which will be located at the Colorado Northwestern Community College bell tower.

She believes moving her office into the incubator could happen as early as the end of next week, but a hard public opening is still at least a month away.

In addition to prepping the new incubator for clients, Cook said now is an appropriate time to create a separate business incubator board.

“I know there has been discussions about you all, as the EDP Board, being the same board that is handling the incubator,” Cook said. “I would strongly urge everyone that is not how we want to operate.”

Although Cook was adamantly opposed to the EDP Board managing the business incubator, she was not opposed to some EDP members serving on both.

But, the idea received lukewarm support.

“I was under the impression that for the time being the EDP Board would be (the incubator board),” Alisa Corey said. “I don’t understand why we need two separate boards and how having one board would reflect negatively on the EDP.”

Because the EDP is registered as a 501 (c) 6 nonprofit organization and the business incubator is established as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, Cook said funding streams come from the city, the county, its business partnerships, donations and state grants.

She argued if there is one board managing funds for two separate nonprofits, it could open the EDP and the incubator up to investigation.

“It is extremely important to me to maintain transparency,” Cook said. “If we have the same board for the EDP and for the incubator it looks suspicious, it looks like there’s cronyism.

“As we begin to incubate businesses…or get to a point where we are hunting and begin offering incentives, we really need everything to be perfect. We don’t want anyone pointing their finger at us and accusing us of doing anything wrong with their funds.”

Board member Jennifer Riley sympathized with some board members’ disappointment because the incubator is the “EDP’s baby.”

“I understand where you are coming from Alisa because this is the EDP’s thing,” Riley said. “But it does make sense for us to have some separation.”

Cook added that although she is in favor of two boards, the EDP would not lose its influence over the incubator. It is her intention for the new board to serve in an advisory capacity and report to the EDP Board.

“And you guys all know that synergy and energy come from having more people involved,” Cook said. “So why not get more people from the community involved in the incubator?”

Members of the business incubator implementation team will be invited to join the advisory board before the EDP begins soliciting interest from the public, Cook said.

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