The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership brought in Clarke Becker, director of the Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium, to speak about the challenges rural communities face statewide and how Moffat County could meet those challenges.
Rural and urban communities need to band together to create a healthy economy.
“The state and the future of our state is really linked to our rural and urban issues,” he said.
This is especially important for rural areas, Becker added.
“If we do not have a good working relationship with urban Colorado, we will fail in rural Colorado,” he said.
Moffat County faces challenges specific to a remote area, and because the population density is about six people per square mile, it doesn’t get the same attention that more densely populated areas get, Becker said.
“That has implications for your economic success,” he said.
To ensure economic success in rural areas, elected officials and business leaders need to team up, he said.
“If business isn’t making money, then the public sector isn’t making money,” Becker said. “There’s an inextricable link between those two.”
The community of Craig needs to be an attractive place to business owners but also to its residents. One of the worrisome factors of a rural community, he said, is the youth migration. Young people leave town, and don’t necessarily come back.
“This is one that probably worries me the most,” Becker said. “What’s the community doing to get them to stay here?”
Rick Johnson, plant manager of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, said part of the challenge was political. The disconnect between rural and urban ideologies put Craig at a disadvantage, he said.
“How do we here in rural Colorado deal with the over-regulations?” he said.
Frank Moe, owner of Best Western Deer Park Inn & Suites, expressed there was an anxiety that didn’t help the economy.
“People are nervous about losing their jobs,” he said.
It’s important, regardless of the challenges, for local entities to recognize businesses who are interested in coming to the area, and make sure they are welcome and able to set up in town, Becker said.
Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.