Initiative would benefit Moffat County

Happy holidays to everyone … and how did we get to the Christmas season already? Thanksgiving morning, I got up early, as I always do, to start a fire, make coffee and work in the predawn quiet of my house. As I gathered the split aspen and pine from my deck and crept through the kitchen and down the hall in my slippers, my mind touched on the status of our local economy and how it seems to be contracting more and more each month.

We all dodged a pretty large bullet with the Wild Earth Guardian scare, and it was inspiring to see the community unite against the assault on our financial wellbeing … and, there are some new endeavors being built around town so, all in all and relatively speaking, things could be worse.

My fire building technique has evolved over the years to a reasonably efficient process of late, but it still involves newspaper. I drew from the stack of local papers from my Aunt Joann that day and happened to pull out the Wednesday edition from October 5 of 2016. I have come to the conclusion that it’s a law of human nature, if you are building a fire or cleaning the cat cages at the animal hospital, you are likely to be caught — paused, standing or kneeling — regarding the pictures or articles or ads that have caught your eye before you crumple the paper for the fire or lay it into the cage.

The headline that morning read; “Initiative would benefit Moffat County.” It happened to be an article on the “Annual Levy Law” and how we might be able to appropriate more property tax income as a county.

The headline was somehow fitting or uncanny, and it spoke to me and appropriately framed the focus of all my efforts since July: “Initiative would benefit Moffat County.”

This can be read two ways, and it’s the second way, not the intended way, that hashit home for me.

Well here we are, the long and the short of it. Commissioner Frank Moe encouraged Jason Godfrey, of Better City, to call me to talk about the status of invention and entrepreneurism in the Valley. I believe most people in town don’t realize there are 18 local citizens who have been awarded United States patents. I don’t want to toot their horns too aggressively, as I am one of them, and it would appear boastful. I mention it to share with everyone an observation I made not too long ago.

While this community and its leaders have perpetually been retaining the services of economic diversification companies and organizations that evaluate what we have or don’t have as a balanced economy, we have seen only the stacks of reports and spiral bound evaluations that unanimously suggest the development of greater diversification in our manufacturing capacity.

My roots go way back as a citizen of this community, and my first business was created downtown in 1984. Since then, I have created other businesses, involved myself with a multitude of patents and associated with quite a number of others in various forms of entrepreneurial product development.

My observation the other day is centered around, ironically, “Initiative” and how it seems to play a role in our community’s economic status. I have a modest stack of bound, community economic reports on my desk from the last 30 years, Frank’s stack is much taller than mine, because he is in the thick of it.

The reason nothing profound has been done in local manufacturing terms is not because our community leaders have failed. They have, with their skill set, recognized and defined the need and the advantages of manufacturing in a strong healthy community economy. We couldn’t and shouldn’t ask them to do any more than that. The breakdown has been in the hands of the private sector — the local entrepreneurs, like me, who have worked hard to advance their own endeavors but failed to heed the calls, take the initiative and step up to the multi-product manufacturing plate … for the community.

Yes, “Initiative would benefit Moffat County”; someone with initiative could stand up with other skilled associates and take steps to plant the seeds for a more established manufacturing economy here in Craig.

This is the concept for West Portal Industries, a new collaborative entity that is focused on manufacturing. We have a long list of products and projects that can be advanced in our valley, some that are proprietary some that are not and some that will likely have a national reach. While it is a new private enterprise, it is going to offer work to the established fabricators in the valley and, God willing, many more individuals who have the skills and the interest.

Countless individuals, as well as the boards of Moffat County Commissioners and CMEDP, have been made aware of the collaborative endeavor and have expressed interest, support and enthusiasm.

The website is soon to be up and running, and very shortly, a press release will follow. We have been developing the strategic plan for business since July and also nearing completion is a collection of white papers that detail the first 20 projects. We look forward to sharing more information and working together and very hard for the sake of our economy.


James Stoddard


Principal and co-founder of West Portal Industries

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