Craig’s new USDA grant will help develop economic plan
The city of Craig is one of only three entities in Colorado to receive a planning and assistance grant last week from the United States Department of Agriculture.
According to an email announcement from the city, Craig and Moffat County were among 47 communities across the country that applied for and received assistance through the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Innovation program.
“We are elated to hear about our selection for this project,” said Melanie Kilpatrick, Craig’s executive assistant to the city manager. “We had a great variety of application support letters from our local community partners so we are optimistic about the opportunities that await.”
Those entities include the Moffat County School District, Moffat County Tourism Association, Memorial Regional Health, Tri-State Generation & Transmission, Bank of Colorado, Identity Graphics, Craig City Council, Craig Chamber of Commerce and Moffat County Visitor Center, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, and Colorado Northwestern Community College.
Kilpatrick said all of Craig’s community partners will have a role to play going forward.
“These entities committed their role to the City of Craig and the REDI initiative to include forming a genuine partnership to actively support planning to overcome multi-jurisdictional challenges in our community — designating one representative to work on this effort,” Kilpatrick said, adding the partners are “committing their efforts in sustaining implementation of this grant beyond its initial completion.”
According to a news release from USDA announcing Craig and Moffat County as a recipient, the grant will be used “for planning assistance to help complete a broadband build-out plan titled ‘Developing High-Speed Connectivity. The planning will also help develop workforce housing and senior independent-living housing.”
USDA officials said they know the importance of broadband in Craig.
“Broadband is a necessity for economic development and critical infrastructure to ensure rural prosperity,” said Sallie Clark, Colorado state director of USDA Rural Development. “The assistance provided will benefit residents of the city of Craig and Moffat County.”
Craig City Manager Peter Brixius has pushed hard for faster internet since taking his position at the city. Brixius plans to utilize the plan that REDI representatives will help develop to apply for even more grant funding.
“Once the economic development plan is put together, it will qualify us for future state and federal funding that we may not have qualified for without this plan,” Brixius said.
Though the REDI grant does not have a specific dollar amount attached to it, the deliverables are nonetheless tangible.
“The deliverable for this project is a well-thought-out economic development plan that centers around technology and infrastructure,” Brixius said.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has filed a protest with federal regulators seeking to block the bid by the power provider for rural electric cooperatives to jump from state to federal oversight.