Speakers present business method
Experts: Survey of services, quick turnaround key to attracting businesses
December 16, 2008
By BRIDGET MANLEY
Daily Press writer
Successfully attracting new businesses to the Yampa Valley could depend on how much local economic development groups know about their communities, two state officials said at a public gathering Monday.
“There are a lot of communities that don’t understand what they have” in terms of transportation, infrastructure and site availability, said Mark Buschenfeldt, project manager for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
He and Pete J. Roskop, OEDIT business development representative for metro Denver, spoke to a group of about 20 people Monday morning at Hayden Town Hall to explain the process the agency uses to connect communities with enterprises seeking to move operations, either from in or out of state.
Audience members included representatives from the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, Routt County Economic Development Cooperative and Yampa Valley SCORE, an advertising group for small businesses.
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Their purpose: To determine what Moffat and Routt counties can do to attract new businesses to the region.
Attempting to draw in new businesses isn’t new to the EDP.
About six weeks ago, the agency submitted a proposal to an Austrian-based home building company considering Craig as one of several possible destinations. However, company officials didn’t offer to visit Moffat County, but instead conducted a site visit with another community in the state.
The move indicated the company probably has removed Craig from its list of potential sites, EDP Director Darcy Trask said, adding that she hasn’t heard a definitive answer from the company.
She said the group is “well positioned” to continue courting enterprises that could move into the area.
OEDIT could help with the process.
Buschenfeldt and Roskop, who work in the agency’s business development division, explained that when out-of-state enterprises look to move into Colorado, they rarely have a specific community in mind.
That’s where OEDIT steps in.
Companies often approach the agency, which in turn seeks communities that may have what the business needs to get off the ground.
Companies submit a request for information, or RFI, outlining their needs, which can include interstate access, utility service and land on which to build facilities.
As Buschenfeldt and Roskop showed previously submitted requests, they pointed out that some of these documents are highly detailed, while others can be vague.
In most cases, however, the requested turnaround rate is relatively quick. Information requests can require a response deadline from several days to two weeks.
Multiple communities may be vying for any given business.
“If you’re hearing from us, rest assured it’s a pretty highly-competitive situation,” Buschenfeldt said.
He suggested economic development group members develop a “rapid reaction” plan that can get information to businesses quickly.
Officials from Moffat and Routt economic development groups had that end in mind Monday morning.
In Routt County, quickly accessing requested information includes building a “pool of interested citizenry,” including Chamber of Commerce representatives and economic development group members, said Noreen Moore, Routt County Economic Development Cooperative business resource director.
In Moffat County, meeting that goal includes compiling an inventory of characteristics companies could find appealing. Preparing to woo new enterprises into the area also includes building relationships with city and county officials, as well as local developers, Trask said.
She predicted that finding businesses willing to locate operations to the region could be challenging.
“Our rural, remote character and : infrastructure limit the proposals we can be successful with,” she said.
Still, as long as companies that fit the EDP’s mission continue to show interest in Craig, the agency is going to keep trying to move them here, she added.