Moffat County comes together for common goal

Patrick Kelly
Keith Kramer, executive director of Yampa Valley Data Partners, explains data regarding the fastest growing occupations in Colorado.
Patrick Kelly

Members from a multitude of Moffat County and Craig organizations came together on Wednesday night to discuss economic development and begin planning for the future.

“In order for a community to succeed and prosper, it will take all of us working closely together,” said Jay Oxley, chairman of Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership at the beginning of the meeting.

Organizations represented at EDP’s 2015 annual meeting included Moffat County Tourism Association, Craig Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, Craig City Council, Moffat County Commission and Yampa Valley Data Partners.

The goal for the meeting was to reach a consensus on what economic development is and understand the steps and timelines for the groups involved.

First, attendees heard from Keith Kramer, executive director of YVDP, who presented data regarding Moffat County’s population, income and property value, employment and economic diversity.

“If you have your top three industries accounting for less than 50 percent of the total jobs in your county, that’s good economic diversity,” Kramer explained.

Moffat County meets this standard with mining, retail and public administration accounting for 41 percent of the wages paid in Moffat County.

The tax base in Moffat County is energy and coal-reliant, with nearly one out of every five tax dollars being generated by Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

However, according to Kramer, coal-mining jobs are down 25 percent over the past three years.

Next, Christina Oxley, executive director of Craig Chamber of Commerce, presented the chamber’s Vision 2035 project.

“The purpose of this vision project was really to engage the community, we have a lot of planning documents that are government driven or industry driven,” she said. “But, one of the complaints we hear is, ‘how do we get the community engaged?’”

To accomplish this, the chamber held two community meetings in Craig and one in Maybell as well as distributing a survey.

The Vision 2035 project takes the data collected and applies it to four categories: economic, environmental, social and civic, Oxley said.

Each category is broken down further into visions, focus areas, projects and indicators based on the feedback collected in the surveys.

Oxley said this is a good time for the chamber to align with other efforts working toward the same goal.

“I think as we look at how to implement this or how to pursue this, we need to work with all of those teams and make sure we’re all on the same page,” she said.

Additionally, the six Moffat County representatives who attended the National Association of Counties Innovation Challenge in Pikeville, Kentucky, presented their plans for economic diversification.

The NACo team consists of Oxley, on behalf of EDP; Frank Moe, Moffat County commissioner; Brent Curtice, superintendent of Moffat County School District; Russell George, president of Colorado Northwestern Community College; Ray Beck, mayor of Craig; and John Rossfeld, CEO of The Memorial Hospital.

Beck explained the team’s three goals: communication, development of a strategy and implementation of an action plan. Moe emphasized the implementation aspect.

“We really have all of the resources but we haven’t been able to get the implementation part,” Moe said.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

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