Craig Economic Development Committee to recommend spending about $133K
CRAIG — A recommendation to spend about $133,000 to fund a number of initiatives aimed at improving and growing the local economy will be brought before Craig City Council this month.
The recommendation will include the following:
• $62,800 to support an initiative for wayfinding signs throughout Craig and Moffat County.
• $50,000, with the possibility of an additional $50,000, to provide business development matching grants.
• $5,000 to assist the Chamber of Commerce in taking over the Small Business Development Center from the Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership, which is set to dissolve Feb. 22.
In addition, City Council will discuss $15,000 funding for at least one Craig Chamber of Commerce shop local initiative.
The city economic development committee — which includes council members Tony Bohrer, Andrea Camp, and Chris Nichols and City Manager Peter Brixius — was formed in January and met for the second time Monday, Feb. 4, at City Hall to finalize its recommendations.
Also attending the meeting were Mayor John Ponikvar and Councilman Jarod Ogden — who is challenging Ponikvar for the mayor’s office in the April municipal election — representatives from a number of community organizations and a few members of the public, including city council candidate Brian Mackenzie.
The committee’s recommendations would leave the City Council with about $30,000 of $162,800 earmarked for economic development in its 2019 budget. Council could increase this amount, but would likely need to approve a supplemental budget to spend reserves or re-allocate from the council fund.
During Monday’s meeting, the committee also:
• Reviewed the application for business matching grants , determining two types of improvements — facade, landscaping, and general exterior improvements — that will improve the look of the town, and/or capital improvements or acquisitions that help businesses grow — that will qualify. The committee hopes to have the allocation approved by City Council this month and the application and a granting committee formed soon after to begin reviewing applications in May through September or “until the money runs out,” Bohrer said.
• Discussed the logistics of a small business pulse survey — a joint effort by the city and Craig Chamber of Commerce. An incentive, such as a free chamber membership or enhanced listings, could be offered to encourage business participation. “If you guys want to offer a cash prize, we’ll be happy to give it away,” chamber Director Jennifer Holloway said.
• Received an update on the wayfinding initiative from Moffat County Tourism Director Tom Kleinschnitz, who reported that 46 public places had been identified, then prioritized to about 10 places that would benefit from “good looking and visitor ready” signs. The groups has begun drafting a map to show where signs would be located in relation to these places. Kleinschnitz hopes Local Marketing District funding and other dollars will flow to the project as a result of the city’s commitment. “Your leadership will be important on this,” Kleinschnitz said. The committee agreed the project has support but didn’t want to it to “get tied-up in the design,” Nichols said. Boher agreed, adding, “We want a victory we can see in 2019.”
• Consultant Kirstie McPherson gave a presentation on the urgency of developing a prospectus to attract investors through Opportunity Zones. The committee asked Brixius to return with a plan and costs.
• Camp provided an update on the process to become part of the Colorado Main Street program, initiated by the former city manager. She said she would follow up to learn more about where Craig is at in the process and next steps as well as the costs and benefits of affiliation.
• Considered a proposal to partner by providing funding support for a Chamber of Commerce Shop Local Promotion to run during Tourism Week, May 4 through May 11. The committee will ask City Council to weigh in, but there was some confusion as to whether money had already been allocated for a program similar to a pilot that ran in 2018 at a cost of about $6,000.
The committee also requested the Brixius bring it more information about a loan program discussed during its first meeting.
The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Parks and Recreation Conference Room at City Hall, 300 West Fourth St.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.