Balleck: Results of our collaborative work | CraigDailyPress.com

Balleck: Results of our collaborative work

MICHELLE BALLECK

In April, I wrote about the economic development seeds planted in the first quarter of this year. I am eager to share that our community is seeing results from that hard work.

There is good news to report in several projects on which our community partners are working collectively. I am hopeful for our future due to the cooperative nature so many of our key entities are working under and the support to make our collective goals a reality. These few examples of current projects showcase how our collaboration can make great things happen.

Business Opportunity Toolkit

We learned just last week that our Business Opportunity Toolkit project has been fully funded, thanks to $55,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), $25,000 from U.S. Department of Agriculture and $15,000 from the Moffat County Local Marketing District (LMD).

I am encouraged by the support for this project — a joint effort Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership (CMEDP) is leading with the Craig Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), Colorado Workforce Center (Workforce) and Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) with the support of other key partners. The toolkit will provide our economic leaders answers to questions including which specific industries have a defined market in our community.

With the financial support we need, we will now begin conducting interviews to secure a consulting firm to conduct the necessary analyses that will make up the toolkit. We hope to have a final product to guide our implementation efforts by first quarter 2018.

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This project will provide the data investors are seeking and fine tune to our recruitment efforts to attract appropriate businesses to our community and diversify our local economy.

Community branding & pride campaign

One identified goal at CMEDP's Moffat County Economic Prioritization & Action Workshop in December 2016 was the development of a cohesive branding and community pride campaign. The idea is to create a brand that encompasses not only what Moffat County is as a community, but also what we aspire to be. We will use that brand, likely with a few tweaks depending on the application, to market our communities as beautiful places to visit and recreate, business-friendly bases for companies, and ideal hometowns for young professionals and their families.

For the past few months, representatives from nine anchor institutions have been gathering to assess the work that's been done in this arena, narrow in on desired outcomes and explore image and message options. These institutions include the City of Craig, Moffat County, Moffat County Tourism Association, Memorial Regional Health, Moffat County School District, CNCC, LMD, Chamber and CMEDP.

We reached a place where we needed some assistance from a marketing firm to bring this vision to fruition. We are fortunate to have applied for and been selected for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade's (OEDIT) "Brand Building for Communities" technical assistance opportunity. This support is part of the Blueprint 2.0 initiative and includes support from OEDIT's marketing team and the firm the state uses for its marketing, Development Counsellors International. This technical assistance is valued at $50,000 and will help our community take our branding work to the next level.

With the Chamber acting as the local champion on this project, we are working with state staff to develop the timeline that makes the most sense for our community's needs.

Broadband implementation

The City of Craig, Moffat County and CMEDP have been leading the efforts to bring abundant high-speed internet access at affordable rates to our communities.

We have developed the following goals we plan to implement on a phased basis:

Create redundancy by gaining greater access to statewide and regional infrastructure

Build middle mile infrastructure to Craig community anchor institutions and business community

Build middle mile infrastructure to Craig homes

Connect Hamilton, Maybell, Dinosaur and north substation via wireless technology

Build middle mile infrastructure to Maybell and Dinosaur businesses and homes

We applied for funding through DOLA last week and will apply to the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration this fall for funding to complete the #2 goal to provide middle mile infrastructure to our anchor institutions and business community. This project would total about $4 million and includes local in-kind contributions from Yampa Valley Electric Association and City of Craig. The remainder of the project cost would be split between DOLA and EDA if we are successful in these asks.

We should find out about these two grants in early December, and we look forward to moving our community forward toward having access to this critical 21st century utility.

Michelle Balleck is the executive director of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and Marianna Raftopoulos Business Success Center. She can be reached at (970) 620-4370 or director@cmedp.com.