Moffat County Business Opportunity Toolkit vetted by community, business leaders | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Business Opportunity Toolkit vetted by community, business leaders

Michael Stumpf, principal at Place Dynamics, wraps up a roundtable meeting during which community and business leaders vetted a draft of the Business Opportunity Toolkit.

CRAIG — Successfully growing Moffat County's economy may require less focus on recruiting big businesses from outside the area and more focus on helping grow existing and new businesses from the area.

“We understand that our best opportunities will come from ‘gardening’ our entrepreneurs and supporting our existing businesses in their growth efforts," said Craig Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Perry.

Perry’s remarks came following a roundtable discussion Wednesday morning to vet a draft of the new Business Opportunity Toolkit.

"The Toolkit report will give us a roadmap as a community about how to do that most effectively and with the numbers on our side," she said.

Among the data used to create the draft report was an analysis of 20-years of business activity in the county, performed by consultants Place Dynamics and presented by Principal Michael Stumpf.

Data indicates the following.

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• The community has good organizations with a track record of working together.

• Most businesses in Moffat County were started in Moffat County.

• Businesses survive but don't have a high rate of growth.

• Future trends do not show additional demand for new lodging.

• The stable to slightly declining local population does not support new large retail development but does show demand for certain product lines.

• New manufacturing will most likely be driven by local people filling niche markets.

• The supply chain for big economic and manufacturing drivers, such as coal and oil and gas development. is already built out. With little to no projected growth in those industries, few additional opportunities are available for growth.

"The toolkit formalizes what we already knew in a way that we can act on it as a community," said Colorado Northwestern Community College Community Education Director Desiree Moore.

The aim of the Toolkit project — which will include a market analysis being completed by the chamber, a listing of local programs, a supply chain and gap analysis, tactical analysis and recruitment tools completed by the consultant — is to provide information needed to make data-based decisions in business recruitment and development efforts.

"Business decisions have been based upon the experience of those people involved. There is a lot of value to that, but it doesn't necessarily equate to the dollars and population base that will support the business idea," said Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christina Oxley.

The chamber acted as the fiscal agent for the project as part of the Moffat County Smart Business Alliance — a partnership between the chamber, college, CMEDP and the Craig office of the Colorado Workforce Center — which held the roundtable discussion to provide community and business leaders an opportunity to give feedback before finalization of the toolkit.

"I think you've created good discussion and given us a lot to think about," Mayor John Ponikvar said during final remarks.

Funding for the toolkit originated with $55,000 from a Department of Local Affairs REDI — rural economic development initiative — grant, a $25,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture community development grant, $15,000 cash match from the Local Marketing District, and a $27,000 in-kind match from the Smart Business Alliance.

Funding includes implementation dollars to allow the deployment of the tactical plan.

A report on the project is expected to be presented to the Local Marketing District and the city and county in August or September, Oxley said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.