Brower: Economic resurgence and resiliency on tap for Grand County
January 31, 2018
I was impressed to see that there's real planning and implementation work taking place when it comes to improving Grand County's economic environment.
Proof of that was obvious Monday at a well-attended (36 people were there) meeting of economic movers and shakers in the county. DiAnn Butler, the Grand County Economic Development Director, hosted the meeting as a summary of the county's economic resurgence and resiliency action and implementation project.
I know, that's a mouthful. But it has real meaning for the residents and business community of Grand County. Here's why.
Funded in part by Freeport-McMoran (owners of the Henderson Mine and Mill) and the federal office of economic development, this plan was envisioned as a way to guide Grand County forward in good or bad economic times so that our economy can grow and adapt to changing times.
This project several key focal areas.
As many businesses identified that getting employees and retaining employees was a critical problem across the county, the project has an entire stakeholder group that has been working toward that issue. Actions to be undertaken by this group include a cooperative and shared employee retention system whereby jobs can be shared, promoted and improved to create full-time, year-round work for what are now generally seasonal employees. A common web-based portal for employee needs from both the employer and employee point of view was also highlighted as an important resource to come on line.
As housing has been identified as equally critical when it comes to employee hiring and retention, the group has been working hard on coming up with an implementation plan relating to housing. A county wide web portal that would serve as an employment resource for all (employees and employers) is being planned. Even better, incentives through Grand Foundation grant program for housing assistance is already in place and is moving forward to be expanded, following a model in place in Winter Park.
As well, the town of Granby is in the process of working with three housing projects (affordable apartments in southern Granby on town land, senior housing in downtown and low-priced home units at the Sun Communities RV park in west Granby) that are in the process of coming on line soon, offering that critically needed housing inventory.
Education also is part of this plan and the Grand County Higher Education Initiative has been launched (with help from a Daniels Fund grant) to help mesh the needs of county employers with the offerings and opportunities for training and education in our local school districts (both east and west Grand), through on-line resources and on-the-job training and mentoring. This "grow your own" approach can help with employee needs locally, using local talent and resources.
Then there's the "create here" program, which is geared toward helping businesses who want to start or expand here in Grand County, generally in the tourism sector. Resources, a business recruitment contest and an outreach campaign are all being planned to help with this business expansion effort.
A wood products sector group has also been working hard to find ways of capitalizing on our expansive menu of forest products that can be put to productive commercial use so as to create jobs, grow our local economy and stabilized the ups and downs of the timber industry here in Grand County.
These are all, of course, extremely worthwhile for our local economy, which is resurgent right now and which is planning for resiliency. Even better is the implementation part of the program, which has now established a leadership structure so that the project moves forward with actual accomplishments on the ground and in the real world.
As this program is implemented, watch Grand County's economy continue to surge on a foundation that establishes local resilience.
Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.