CMEDP meeting recap for Aug. 19
Duran said the conference call focused on increasing outdoor recreation and tourism in Craig as a key part of economic development.
“People of this community are leaving on the weekends, they buy their ATV here and are driving four or five hours around the state to play with them,” he said. “Why can’t we capitalize on that?”
At their monthly meeting on Wednesday the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership discussed upcoming opportunities to strengthen the economy and the process of implementing a Local Marketing District.
Although it was determined CMEDP Director Audrey Danner would not be on the team going to the National Association of Counties Innovation Challenge Sept. 16 to 18 in Grand Junction, her board still has close involvement with the team and is working to determine exactly what its role will be moving forward.
The NACo team consists of Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe, Moffat County Finance Director Mindy Curtis, Craig City Manager Jim Ferree, Craig City Councilmembers Derek Duran and John Ponikvar and Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakley.
Moe, CMEDP’s county liaison, said he thinks the strategic planning from CMEDP, Craig/Moffat Tourism Association and Craig Chamber of Commerce is a crucial contribution and the NACo team needs to account for it.
“None of this is separate from what other people are doing, this needs to be coordinated with the three entities and their strategic plans,” he said.
CMEDP, MCTA and the Chamber have already begun their effort to collaborate on planning. Danner said MCTA has invited CMEDP and the chamber to work together under a facilitator that it budgeted to hire for the purpose of putting all of their respective plans together in one document.
“I think synergistically it makes all kinds of sense,” said CMEDP Chairman Jay Oxley, noting how frequently the three entities cross paths.
CMEDP member Luke Tucker gave an overview of the plans’ bullet points at Wednesday’s meeting.
According to Tucker, the categories discussed in the plan are recreation, education, energy and natural resources, an aging population, broadband internet, agriculture and business recruitment. He said he and Danner hope to have specifics of each area on paper before next month’s meeting.
Duran, CMEDP’s city liaison, said he hopes the NACo workshop will help the team members come up with specific ways to help implement the groups’ plans.
“We have the ideas that we want,” he said. “Now, how are we going to get them into place?”
One of the ways community leaders are working to implement plans is seeking different avenues of funding.
The formation of a LMD would create an additional 4 percent lodging tax in Moffat County, if approved by voters in November. The funds collected from the tax could be used for promoting tourism, supporting business recruitment, management and development, and organizing public events.
To put the LMD to a ballot vote, community leaders had to collect signatures from property owners representing 50 percent of assessed commercial property in Moffat County.
Moe said the signatures were collected and the petition was certified on Wednesday. Now, the town of Dinosaur, Moffat County and Craig must hold public meetings on the subject and pass ballot resolutions before Sept. 4.
The first joint public meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Aug. 31 at Moffat County Courthouse’s main conference room. County Commissioners will have their LMD meeting at 9:15 a.m. Sept. 1 in the county chambers, city council’s meeting will be held at 5:30 Sept. 1 at Craig Municipal Building and Dinosaur will have its meeting 2 p.m. Sept. 1 at Dinosaur Town Hall.
Oxley, worried that Dinosaur represents a much smaller portion of the county than Craig, asked Moe how the decision making process would be balanced between the three entities represented in the LMD.
Moe reassured Oxley, stating that Dinosaur is grateful to be included in the process and he didn’t think the town would abuse any veto power, but nothing is set in stone.
The county is also contemplating an Economic Development Administration grant that would facilitate a business assessment of Moffat County. The grant application will be discussed at Tuesday’s County Commissioners’ meeting as well as Craig City Council.
“That would be the missing piece in all the reports that we have,” Danner said of the assessment.
Moe said he understands people are wary of more planning, but this assessment would open the door for future EDA funding.
“You want to get something implemented and you need the people, the resources and the money – this is where it is,” he said.
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During part of this week’s Craig City Council meeting, members of council and city leadership discussed the public’s concerns surrounding the city’s busier areas — especially in the area of grocery stores and school buildings.