Jane Blackstone, economic development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, and Keith Kramer, executive director for Yampa Valley Data Partners, discuss economic development in the region.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Jane Blackstone, economic development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, and Keith Kramer, executive director for Yampa Valley Data Partners, discuss economic development in the region.

Stronger Economies Together meeting facilitates discussion on economic development

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Leaders from Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties gathered Wednesday to discuss economic development during a Stronger Economies Together meeting.

The meeting at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig followed a nearly yearlong training program that brought together the three counties to help officials understand how to formulate an economic strategy and pool resources.

Now the counties are working out that plan.

“The plan is about what are the key objectives to work on as a region,” said Jane Blackstone, economic development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

That plan has developed around key components of the region’s economy, including energy, agriculture and recreation.

“It’s consolidating the resources that are already there,” said Katelin Cook, economic development coordinator for Rio Blanco County. “We’ve also identified what some of our obstacles are. Broadband was one of the biggest, most-talked-about obstacles. With our strategies, we can hopefully fix that gap.”

With guidance from Pattie Snidow, the northwest area director for the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the plan can move into the implementation phase. If the plan meets the USDA’s criteria, the region will get a $5,000 seed grant to launch the process.

“It’s used for whatever they choose for implementation,” Snidow said.

This plan is not meant to be put on the shelf, Snidow said, but it likely will be incremental progress.

“What we hope happens is that we build relationships between the community,” she said. “They’re small changes, but in the long run, they’re big.”

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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