Our View: EDP and businesses need to take action | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: EDP and businesses need to take action

This week, two Front Range economists visited Craig to talk about economic development with Northwest Colorado leaders and community members.

One was from Thornton and the other from Castle Rock — two metro cities that have seen substantial economic development and growth in the last decade.

It's phenomenal that they visited Craig to shed insight into how they've boosted their economies and that they gave us ideas about how to boost ours.

Yet there's a problem. Craig's economic development team that operates the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership (CMEDP) doesn't focus on soliciting business to our area.

"It's never been off our task list, but it's not Priority 1, and it's a simple matter of time and dollars," Audrey Danner who runs the CMEDP told the Craig Daily Press this week.

She said it's her job to help the businesses that already exist. That may be true, but have you seen the number of vacancies in Craig?

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Currently, Craig has 215,914-square-feet of commercial vacancies, according to data Craig Daily Press reporter Janelle O'Dea gathered from the Moffat County assessors office.

We say, spend more time filling those vacancies in Craig.

Something has to change. Sustaining the businesses that already exist in Craig is important, but it's just as important — if not more important — to appeal for new businesses to come here.

We're not placing all the blame on CMEDP, because it takes a community to create those incentives to lure businesses.

If you haven't noticed, businesses keep closing. Safeway left a 38,000-square-feet big box vacancy on the main road through Craig.

Family Dollar left in August, leaving a vacant 17,000-square-foot eyesore in our town. Mauka Café recently closed, and Double Barrel Steakhouse is closing on Dec. 20.

The Golden Cavvy is still vacant. A number of vacancies leave dark shadows throughout Centennial Mall. The list goes on and on.

So the question is: What are CMEDP and the community going to do? What will happen if we stay on this path?

If you don't make a choice to take a chance, nothing will change. It's human nature to be comfortable, but it's time to step out of our comfort zone.

It's time for the CMEDP and community business leaders to take action on what we've learned from the various economic development meetings that have happened over the last few years.

Look at the downtown business assessment. When CU Denver representatives studied downtown Craig, came up with a plan and tried to present it to business owners, very few showed up.

It's time for community members who are OK with mediocrity to step it up. If we're not happy, we've got to do something, stop expecting others to do the work for us and stop complaining.

We know it takes time to see results from economic development efforts, but if we don't get the ball rolling, those results will never surface.

We commend bringing economists to Craig, but is it helping? More importantly — are local businesses and the CMEDP going to take action on the advice given?

Editorial board:

Renee Campbell — newspaper representative (absent)

Noelle Leavitt Riley — newspaper representative

Sheli Steele — newspaper representative

Shannon Moore — community representative

Bob Mueller — community representative