Optimism, expertise drive new city manager’s vision for Craig
Craig — There’s been a new face in the room on Craig’s local meeting circuit these past six weeks. And often dressed in sport coat and tie with a six-foot-two stature, he’s hard to miss.
New Craig City Manager Mike Foreman is genuinely enthusiastic about helping build Craig’s future because he is genuinely enthusiastic about Craig itself.
“I came here to make Craig my home,” Foreman said. “This is where I want to retire. This meets all of my needs and goals. It’s a place I can literally live, work and play.”
Hailing from Celina, Texas and originally from a tiny town of 350 people in southeast Texas, Foreman seems to have an innate appreciation for small-town life. But he also has vision on how to help Craig grow.
“I believe we’re right on the cusp of an upswing for Craig,” Foreman told the Yampa Valley Young Professionals Thursday evening, one of countless community organizations he’s met with in recent weeks. “You’ve got to invest in your town to get people to come spend money in your town.”
Among the first investments Foreman is angling to make are in broadband and economic development efforts, parks and recreation and customer service.
“You want to create raving fans,” he said. “I want people not from here, when they walk away from this experience, to say wow, I had a great time in Craig.”
Foreman brings expertise uniquely suited to seeing Craig through its next evolution. He climbed the ladder of city management from his first gig as a building inspector clerk at age 23 to working as a code enforcement officer. As city manager of Celina, he helped the city grow from 5,000 people to 12,000 over the past five years.
“Mike’s background in that area should really help us here in Craig,” said City of Craig Finance Director Bruce Nelson. “He’s really enthusiastic about doing the job and trying to figure out what the community wants.”
Foreman keeps an open-door policy and and a standing invitation for anyone to drop by his office with suggestions or ideas for how to improve Craig. But when not on the job, Foreman is out exploring the region, camera in hand.
“On weekends, what I do is I get up at six in the morning and I take off and choose a different direction each weekend,” he said. “I’ve gone to Vernal, Utah, Baggs, Wyo., Rifle and Meeker… I’ve got thousands of photos already.”
Some of his wildlife and landscape photographs were even featured during this month’s Artwalk, and his office at City Hall is brightly adorned with them.
Most of all, Foreman emanates a sincere optimism about Craig’s potential, which, paired with the momentum that’s already growing by the efforts of local community leaders, promises to be a potent force for positive change.
“I’m really encouraged by the energy that Mike has brought to the position and the direction he wants to take the city,” said Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Michelle Balleck.
Some students are choosing to chart their own course after graduation, bucking the conventional path of college or trade school, but with no less ambition than their degree-seeking peers. Moffat County High School senior Tyler Gonzales is one such student, who has chosen to dive into a full-time job at Chaos Ink after graduating and feed his passion for design and entrepreneurialism.