Gov. John Hickenlooper and staff are building an economic development plan from the bottom up to help plan for economic revival county by county in Colorado. Montezuma County residents and businesses are being asked to help by participating in an online survey.
Hickenlooper is asking residents from each county in the state to share their stories, challenges and strengths by developing a strategic economic development plan for their county. According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, these county plans will then be rolled into 14 regional economic development plans, which collectively will be rolled into a statewide economic development plan.
Its going to be the guiding document by which his whole administration moves forward on economic development issues, specifically the office of economic development, said Matt Cheroutes, director of communications for the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
To participate in the survey, visit http://advancecolorado.com/bottomup. Colorado State Universitys Montezuma County Extension Office is partnering with OEDIT to serve as a place where people without Internet access can go to complete the survey, at the county courthouse, 109 W. Main St., Room 102, in Cortez. The extension office has hard copies of the survey that residents can fill out, and then the office will mail them in.
Montezuma County Colorado State University Extension Interim Director Tom Hooten was one of only a few people from Montezuma County who attended a regional meeting with representatives from OEDIT held March 7, in Durango.
I attended because CSU Extension wants to help get the word out and serve as at least a contact point for the survey, Hooten said.
Hooten said some of the things that OEDIT officials were trying to capture at the meeting in Durango follow: What are the economic drivers of the county? Why are some companies here in Montezuma County? What secondary jobs are being produced and developed here? Hooten said he answered those questions to the best of his knowledge.
Im not an economist. I do have ties, interests and knowledge about agriculture and related things in the county, so of course much of my input is in that area, he said. I did mention the (Four States) Ag Expo and how that is a large economic boost to the county when it happens.
When asked to give some examples of successful businesses in Montezuma County, Hooten answered that they ranged on a huge scale, from Walmart, which draws people from rural parts of the Four Corners, to The Farm restaurant, which grows much of its own food for sandwiches and salads and draws a decent-sized lunch crowd.
Hooten said he has enlisted the help of Cortez Area Chamber of Commerce Director Dena Guttridge and local businessman Jack Schuenemeyer for the survey, and has proposed a local meeting with the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association.
Mitchell Toms, chair of the Montezuma Community Economic Development Association, cited the snowstorm and dangerous roads on March 7 as a reason why he didnt attend the Durango meeting as he had planned. The association is still planning to participate in the survey, and member Brian Kimmel attended the first meeting in January in Durango, where the governor introduced the initiative.
The response that Ive gotten is that people are giving some real serious responses to some of the questions (in the OEDIT survey), said Toms, who added that MCEDA would be open to a local meeting.
Toms said to attract businesses to Montezuma County and instill growth in businesses already here, the county needs to provide things that will attract people. He said the main things people look at when considering a move to a new area are health care and schools.
From an economic standpoint, we always talk about jobs as one of the big three. My belief is that education and education facilities our schools are a major issue right now, said Toms, noting that he believes Montezuma County is right on the edge of having those things.
For more information on the Bottom-up initiative, visit www.advancecolorado.com/bottomup.
Reach Paula Bostrom at [email protected]