Butler seeks ways to boost Grand County’s economy
June 19, 2012
In her office on the second level of the Grand County Administration Building on Friday, DiAnn Butler attached a white board to the wall and started brainstorming a flow chart of Grand County’s key players in economic development.
“It’s a big net,” she said of trying to define the topic as it applies countywide.
But it is now her job to do so; she started her position as Grand County’s first-ever economic development coordinator on June 4.
Stacks of research on how the Colorado Governor’s Office and other counties have defined such a position sit on her desk. For the first few weeks on the job, Butler has been poring over it all to learn what works, she said.
She appreciates that her job title includes the word “coordinator,” and for that, she sees the new county department as “supporting what’s already been happening,” as well as “determining and defining what is going to enhance” economic development in the county, in partnership with existing agencies such as Businesses Without Borders, The Business and Economic Development Association and the Grand County Tourism Board.
She envisions her office to be the place where potential business owners can find a wealth of information about the county, where existing business owners can find support, where communication is facilitated about what’s progressing, where goals such as bringing greater broadband to Grand County are supported, and where through encouraging “alliances and partnerships” among Grand County businesses, the economic viability of the whole community becomes stronger.
Challenges will be defining the office’s accountability and finding ways of measuring success, Butler said.
The fact she has lived in Grand County for 30 years is an asset to the position, according to Grand County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.
The county manager and human resources staff sifted through about 15 applications during the hiring process, then narrowed them to about five of which commissioners reviewed, she said. In interviews with finalists, Butler demonstrated the most “passion” in seeing success of Grand County’s economy, Underbrink Curran said.
Butler knows the “ebbs and flows” of owning a business here as former owner of Destinations West, a rental and property management company she owned from 1990 to 2011. The wife and mother of two grown daughters also served on the Grand County Tourism board for 11 years.
“I have great empathy on how important it is to take care of existing businesses,” Butler said. “No business here is on an island.”
Grand County approved a supplemental to the 2012 budget to fund the economic development position for the remainder of the year. Commissioners approved the position, which on an annual basis is planned to be a department line item of about $55,000 plus supplies, during a hiring freeze among administrators, but felt “there was enough desire from the community, they couldn’t ignore it,” Underbrink Curran said.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603.