Stimulus dollars prompt alternative energy discussion in Grand County | SkyHiNews.com

Stimulus dollars prompt alternative energy discussion in Grand County

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

In the name of economic development in Grand County, the Winter Park Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce has agreed to contribute a $10,000 grant it received from Grand County in 2008 to round up energy stimulus dollars.

In a series of meetings hosted by groups such as the Grand County Business Economic Development Association (BEDA), Energy Opportunities of Grand County and Infinite West, grassroots efforts have been in motion brainstorming ways to channel some of Colorado’s share of federal energy stimulus funds to Middle Park.

“One of the problems smaller communities have is having someone to spend the time, to really go in and see what’s out there,” said Sen. Mark Udall’s Western Slope Field Director Matt Sugar.

The Governor’s Office Web site reflects pages and pages of energy stimulus opportunities, but which can reasonably benefit Grand County residents still needs exploration, said Winter Park Fraser Valley Chamber Executive Director Catherine Ross.

With Grand County Commissioners’ approval on Tuesday, the $10,000 will now serve to hire a professional who can research opportunities and write grants on behalf of the community, according to Ross.

The chamber plans to budget the $10,000 through the nonprofit 501(c)3 BEDA organization.

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BEDA Executive Director Becky McBride has been researching renewable energy stimulus opportunities to stimulate economic development in Grand County, saying the lowest hanging fruit may be through a Weatherization program delivered out of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments office.

Ramping up the availability of Weatherization for qualifying households in Grand County could create jobs for out-of-work contractors, McBride said.

Originally earmarked for printed materials that would serve to entice potential business owners to the area, the $10,000 grant was never spent due to a shift in the economy, according to Ross.

By the summer of 2008, the focus of local chambers, she said, swung from recruiting businesses to keeping existing businesses afloat.

A small portion of the $10,000 will still be alligned with the grant’s original intent, Ross said. Working with BEDA, the chamber plans to post business recruitment information on the Web, but is nixing plans to create expensive print materials.

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@skyhidailynews.com.

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