Moffat County received grant under Obama coal initiative |

Moffat County received grant under Obama coal initiative

Patrick Kelly

Moffat County’s $100,000 budget to perform an economic assessment, conduct a market study and form an action plan on how the county can best raise its economy was made possible by a federal initiative.

The county received $50,000 on a matching grant from the Economic Development Administration under President Obama’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative.

The match portion of the grant breaks down to $25,000 from Colorado Department of Local Affairs, $7,000 from the county and $18,000 through in-kind support.

According to a White House fact sheet, the POWER Initiative is an effort to “assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector.”

So far, 36 awards totaling $14,546,457 for partnerships in 12 states and tribal nations have been announced under the initiative.

Although the program focuses on coal communities in Appalachia, Moffat County received one of two grants distributed in Colorado. The Montrose-based Region 10 League of Economics Assistance and Planning was given a little more than $1.2 million to pursue broadband infrastructure development.

Moffat County Finance Director Mindy Curtis said the county began to pursue a POWER grant after learning about the initiative at April’s National Association of Counties’ Coal-Reliant Communities Innovation Challenge workshop in Pikeville, Kentucky.

A grant application was approved by the commissioners at their Aug. 25 meeting, laying out the scope of work for the proposed project.

“The partners in Moffat County are seeking a well-qualified economic development firm or team to perform an economic assessment, a market analysis and create a resiliency action plan to take deliberate and measured steps to build economic resilience, industry diversification, job creation and job training and reemployment as outlined in a broader economic and workforce development strategy,” according to the application.

Craig Mayor Ray Beck said securing funding to assess the commercial and economic needs of the area compliments other efforts to strengthen the local economy, such as the Local Marketing District.

“I see how this compliments our authority board if the LMD is passed and how that might work with the plan or plans going forward,” he said.

The assessment would also be useful in applying for future grants from the EDA, Curtis said.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement Tuesday the grant could help Moffat County but there is a bigger picture to consider.

“I welcome any opportunity that promotes job creation, and I’m confident Moffat County will maximize the award to bolster the local community,” said Gardner. “I remain concerned, however, that the administration’s regulatory attack on rural Colorado is a roadblock to economic growth. While the $50,000 grant represents a small step toward strengthening Moffat County, we must not lose sight of the need for a real solution to the glaring problem: this administration’s failed energy policy is responsible for job losses and has created an environment in need of revitalization.”

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

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