EDP discusses business incubator, strategic plan | CraigDailyPress.com

EDP discusses business incubator, strategic plan

Joe Moylan

The Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board discussed Wednesday its short- and long-term goals.

EDP director Darcy Owens-Trask said the majority of the organization's focus would shift to creating the business incubator in the next year.

"We have a contract with the state and a financial obligation to get the business incubator off the ground in the next year," Owens-Trask said after the meeting. "It's going to require about 75 percent of our focus."

EDP earned a three-year $115,000 grant from the Office of Economic Development and International Trade for the creation of the Craig/Moffat One-Stop Business Incubation and Technology Center.

The grant is broken up over three years — $50,000 in the first, $35,000 in the second and $30,000 in the third.

The purpose of the incubation center, which will be housed in Colorado Northwestern Community College's bell tower location, is to provide business support services to assist entrepreneurs create and maintain jobs.

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As part of its contract, the state has outlined certain goals the incubation center must meet over the next five years, including 19 new businesses, $1.1 million in new revenue, 82 jobs and $1 million in capital investment.

Although each member of the 12-person board supports the incubation center, many voiced concerns over losing sight of the organization's founding objectives.

Rick Johnson, manager of Craig Station power plant, said small businesses are a vital part of the community, but they wouldn't exist without the region's energy industries.

"The cornerstones of Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties have got to be the power plants and coal mines," Johnson said. "Without power plants and coal mines in the valley, there's not going to be the workers to support all of the (small) businesses."

Johnson said increasing government regulations are making it more difficult to gauge Craig Station's future.

"We've got all of the things we need to be here a long time," Johnson said. "But, with regulations getting tighter and tighter, it's going to be tough.

"The incubator makes sense if we have businesses that are struggling or don't have the know how to survive. But I see vacant buildings and our hotels filling up (if there were) more common sense regulations that would allow energy to expand and allow places like the coal mines to hire more people."

In addition to maintaining a focus on Craig and Moffat County's primary industries, board members said they don't want the business incubator to take resources away from economic hunting or trying to attract new businesses to the area.

Board member Dave Fleming is one of those economic hunters.

"I'm not so much on the side of the economic gardening and some of the things we are doing with this new center," Fleming said. "I think it's great. It's certainly the culmination of the work I think we have been doing for the last three or four years, but I'm more of a hunter."

Fleming said he's not necessarily interested in scouting the entire country for viable new businesses, but believes EDP needs to be better prepared when a company shows interest in coming to Moffat County.

"People have contacted us on their own and during the entire time I have served on this board we have not excited one business into coming here," Fleming said. "Rather than shooting in the dark, we need to be problem-solvers and be prepared when a business does come along that wants to be here."

No official action was taken during the meeting and conversations on the business incubator and EDP's long-term vision will continue Dec. 14 during the organization's next meeting.

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In other action

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board also:

• Heard director’s report from Darcy Owens-Trask on the Economic Development Council of Colorado conference, new business prospecting and an update on Extra Aircraft, a company considering a move to Colorado and has identified Montrose as a possible home.

• Heard an update on new employee hiring process for Craig/Moffat One-Stop Business Incubation and Technology Center. The organization is looking to hire either an administrative assistant or an economic development specialist.

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