EDP mulls micro loan program
With its new director on board, the Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership is ready to get rolling.
Among its priorities are reassuring members that the organization is on track, possibly implementing a micro loan program and evaluating its committee structure.
Established under the former director’s leadership were the membership, communications and economic development committees. At the board’s regular meeting Wednesday, board president Scott Cook asked members to take a hard look at that structure and offer suggestions for better ways to work.
“The committees are fragmented, and there aren’t enough people on any on of them to get things done,” Cook said.
Each committee is composed of three to five board members. Cook said that by combining committees, the number of active participants increases. Or, he suggested getting members involved by sitting on those committees.
“We’ve got to get the committees working,” he said. “We’ve got to get people there, and we’ve got to get them rolling. I’m not sure (this structure) has ever worked that well, and we need it to work.”
No decisions were made Wednesday. Instead, Cook wanted members to think about the proposal and offer suggestions for discussion at a later meeting.
Director Tim Gibbs has been with the EDP for a little more than a month and in that time has been working to strengthen relationships with other community groups.
It’s his goal to meet with all EDP members, but he will focus initially on those with concerns about the organization or who are torn about continuing their membership.
“People are wondering if we’re in business,” Gibbs said. “We are and we’re doing good things and moving forward,” Gibbs said.
Fran Krogh, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at–tended Wednesday’s meeting to talk about grants and loans available to the EDP. More than a year ago, the EDP was awarded a $50,000 USDA grant, most of which was distributed to community members and organizations in the form of business technical assistance grants. The money was used for business workshops, the creation of business plans.
The EDP is not eligible for the same grant this year, Krogh said, but it could apply for a grant through the program’s revolving loan fund.
Typical grants are $50,000, Krogh said, but they’ve gone as high as $500,000. A match is required, which is why the grants aren’t generally for a large amount.
The EDP then could take that money and make it available in the form of micro loans, setting its own interest rate and keeping the interest proceeds. It would be up to the EDP to create its own loan application and standards.
“You can stimulate economic activity if people know there is access to funds,” said Scott Ford, Colorado Mountain College Small Business Development Center. “It generates a lot of interest and activity.”
Gibbs agreed that, though the loan amounts may be small, in many cases they can be the impetus to get a business off the ground.
“They fill a small gap, but it’s an important gap because it’s the first one,” he said.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Routt County is working with both Rio Blanco and Moffat counties and municipalities across northwestern Colorado to create an umbrella organization to better coordinate and pursue economic development in the region.