Nancy Banman talks with leaders from Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties about how to strengthen the region's economy.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Nancy Banman talks with leaders from Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties about how to strengthen the region's economy.

Regional officials: SET to help work toward economic strategy

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— Representatives from Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties attended a seminar hosted by Stronger Economies Together to develop a long-term, high-quality plan that would combine the resources of the three counties for a regional economic strategy.

“Our economic development is important not just for our community, but for the region,” said Audrey Danner, executive director for Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership.

The seminar is part of a nearly yearlong course based on a national curriculum to enable rural communities to have resilient economies. This was the sixth meeting of eight.

Nancy Banman, who led the discussion, said she and her SET counterparts function as coaches for the counties.

“The goal is to come up with a high-quality plan,” she said. “There will be elements (from the plan) they can use for grants.”

A lot of it is just about understanding how to use the existing elements of a region and expanding from there, Banman said.

SET asks, “What are the assets? What are the resources? What are the barriers?” she said.

Katelin Cook, executive director of Meeker’s Chamber of Commerce, said she was one of the county representatives that originally applied to the SET program.

“It’s been regional from the very beginning,” she said.

Each county had been part of the application process from the get-go, Cook said.

“From the six months, the relationships that have been built are incredible,” she said. SET helps them “understand our key industries that are here and what our workforce looks like.”

Cook admitted that it wasn’t easy to determine measurable accomplishments.

“Economic development is one of those pie-in-the-sky things where there’s not a lot of tangible work being done, but if nobody’s doing it, you know it’s not getting done,” she said.

Craig City Councilman Ray Beck said that at this meeting, they decided which sectors of the economy the region should focus on developing: transportation, energy, agriculture, arts and entertainment and informational technology.

“We’re trying to narrow our focus down to come up with goals that are measurable and attainable,” he said.

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com

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