Moffat County seeks access to federal grants | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County seeks access to federal grants

Patrick Kelly

Moffat County Commissioners Chuck Grobe, Frank Moe and John Kinkaid discuss the county's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and working with the Economic Development Administration to obtain matching grants on Monday.

As the county commissioners continue to focus on strengthening the local economy, opening avenues for funding projects is a priority.

This time last year, the county was preparing to apply for the Economic Development Administration grant that was subsequently used to fund the economic development study by consulting firm Better City.

The study preformed by Better City now forms the bulk of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that can be submitted to the EDA, allowing the county to apply for matching grants for the next five years.

"The CEDS is the guide emphasizing strategic approaches based on regional visioning, goals, measurable objectives and prioritized actions, rather than the CEDS serving as an inventory of programs and projects already in process," Moffat County Finance Director Mindy Curtis said.

The draft of the report is due on Aug. 15.

"They'll look at it, review it and kick it back to us," Curtis said.

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If approved the CEDS is good for five years and requires yearly reports on the strategic direction and action plan outlined within the document.

"This is not a plan that sits on a shelf. They require you to report on a yearly basis," Curtis said.

The commissioners discussed bringing the Moffat County Local Marketing District on board as a co-applicant with the county so it could help keep track of progress and handle the yearly evaluations.

Moffat County Commissioner Frank Moe said preparing the CEDS is one of three steps — business assessment, feasibility studies and implementation — required to open up funding from the EDA.

"That's been the challenge to our community," Moe said. "We haven't had the framework."

But with the CEDS in place, Moffat County would have access to a pool of federal grant money through the EDA.

Commissioner John Kinkaid asked if the federal money was absolutely necessary or if private equity could be considered a viable alternative but Commissioner Chuck Grobe advised that the county would need to "prime the pump" to attract private interests.

"You have to do the paperwork," Grobe said.

Moving forward, the commissioners are continuing to review the economic development projects suggested by Better City and outlined in the CEDS.

Better City's top five initiatives are revitalizing the downtown area and taking advantage of the Yampa River, constructing a themed park at in the town of Dinosaur, creating an industrial park, developing the county's textile industry through the abundance of sheep herding and initiating aquaculture opportunities.

In January, the commissioners contracted Better City, at a cost of $81,890, to spend about one year studying the entire county's economic strengths and weaknesses before producing a final action plan.

The funding for Better City's work comes primarily from a $50,000 Economic Development Administration grant under President Barack Obama's Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization, or POWER, Initiative.

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

Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Contact Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.