Eric Depperschmidt, the new Prowers Economic Prosperity Executive Director, has attended a stream of meetings since he assumed his position with the county economic development organization on March 6th. He provided board members with an overview of his initial activities during the second PEP meeting of the month, March 21st. Depperschmidt said he has made it a point to contact municipal organizations, community leaders and business persons, to get their assessment of the economics of the county. He said he intends to continue these meetings as he gains more information about the county’s financial outlook.
Depperschmidt outlined several projects for board members including a comprehensive listing of available properties in the county. “This is being done with the cooperation from local realtors and business owners, gathering information on existing buildings that are on the market,” he explained. The executive director said this information is used by business site selectors and can be linked to a Colorado icon to highlight various cities and counties in the state. He described this as a time-saving tool for site selection as it offers a lot of information at a glance, including square footage and utility infrastructure for a building on offer. He added that a prospective buyer will usually begin by logging into the State of Colorado website instead of a specific community; and from there, their search can become more defined. Depperschmidt said this listing is not meant to infringe on local realtor operations and can act as a free resource for their listings, state-wide.
A second idea will be to make some changes to the PEP website, adding more information for incentive policies and demographic profiles for the county and its cities. County Commissioner Ron Cook said the county website now offers information which was updated for Prowers County as of this year. Depperschmidt said he wanted the incentive information to remain general in scope which would induce interested parties to contact the PEP office for additional information. Another goal is to begin a relationship with a potential liaison to the county from the State Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “I’d like to establish a one-on-one future, personal contact that we can use on a moment’s notice regarding available state incentive programs,” he explained.
Because of confidentiality concerns, specific businesses or names weren’t mentioned at the meeting, but the director outlined two prospective businesses that have shown an interest in the county. One is a light manufacturing operation which is working with PEP partners and a local realtor for a site and some zoning issues. Five jobs could be added within the first two years with some conservative growth after that time span. An agriculture-based business is also dealing with permitting issues, zoning and a proper location. Depperschmidt said a future public meeting will be considered for a question and answer period for local residents on the nature of this operation. There was less information available about a third prospect; a local entrepreneur who is interested in starting a business to provide a service to the automotive industry.
The meeting agenda included a presentation on the workings of SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development by Executive Director, Stephanie Gonzales and Bev Middleton. SECED serves as many as five and sometimes six counties in this region, providing loans for business development, housing rehabilitation and transportation development and planning. She noted that an Enterprise Zone workshop will be held on March 31st at 10am at the SECED offices at 112 West Elm Street in Lamar.
By Russ Baldwin
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