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PEP Provides Business Development Update for Prowers County

Eric Depperschmidt of PEP, Prowers Economic Prosperity, is beginning his sixth month in his capacity as the organization’s executive director. Depperschmidt began his job in early March and provided the PEP board with an overview of recent business development in Prowers County.  He led the monthly board meeting at the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn on Tuesday, August 1st.

An agriculture oriented business has been looking into expanding into the county. Depperschmidt told the board he had an afternoon meeting where the timelines of the venture would be discussed as well as a potential grant to help with road development.  Pelsue, located south of Lamar along Highway 287, continues their expansion plans with a potential groundbreaking this fall which could mean employment for 10 to 20 new workers.  “They have the materials on the ground at their site, but will move forward later in the season,” he explained.

Depperschmidt said the Sage Brush Meadows project for an 80 bed nursing home facility learned it is not eligible for a USDA grant. The group behind the project hoped to use the grant for a feasibility study for a loan application.  “They will look for private funding for the venture and PEP will work with them on a matching fund up to $10,000,” he said, adding they are exploring a possible EDA Grant opportunity.

Once Gateway Safety Products can find a certified official to sign off on their connection from the city to their building for their fire suppression system, they’ll be ready to start production. Depperschmidt said the owner has all the materials ready to start manufacturing road flares and may hire several more persons once the current employees have been trained and production is underway.  Another retail business, which already has a site for operations, is being helped with licensing and their sales tax issues.

In other matters, Depperschmidt said he’s been reviewing several websites dedicated to business site selection as the one currently in use and is state-based, is somewhat cumbersome to use. He suggested a site known as LOIS, or Location One which is used by Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver and is used by real estate developers.  An offer has been made on a three year contract at $2,500 a year.  Wendy Buxton-Andrade suggested local realtors be asked if they would be willing to contribute to the fee as they would be direct benefits from any sales.  The idea was expanded to incorporate a region of southeast Colorado for various communities and the suggestion was made to present the idea to SEBREA.  Depperschmidt said he’d also contact the local realtors for their input.  There are 15-20 sites for sale or lease in the county at this time.

Roundtable meetings will get underway in the fall. The recent housing marketing study conducted in the county on July 12th will be available later this fall for a full presentation to the PEP board.  Rick Robbins, PEP President suggested construction companies be invited to meet with the manufacturing roundtable for their input.

LCC President, Linda Lujan, noted that two non-credit courses are being offered at the college. One is for CDL training, based on the need from local farmers, ranchers and feedlot owners and the other is for technical training from a group known as Ed2Go.  “The online program can be eligible for workforce training investment funding in place of the state workforce and the training covers pharmacy technicians, Cisco tech and other studies,” she explained.  Lujan invited the board to the August 3rd soft showing of Innovate and Make Space program which is new to Lamar Community College.  It’s open to the public at the Betz Tech Center from 3pm to 5pm.

Board member, Anne-Marie Crampton, suggested that an emphasis should be given to the search for a PEP Project Coordinator that was originated shortly after the search for a new executive director began. “We should keep it going just in case we can reach someone who is interested and qualified,” she explained.  Rick Robbins echoed her observation, saying the search should remain active.  He added that some residents have stated they’ve seen an alteration in PEP from the former PCDI from last year, “More than just a name change and I really enjoy hearing those types of comments.  We need to keep our momentum going in that area,” he told the board.

PEP will hold office hours in Holly on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month from 1pm to 4pm, beginning August 15th.  Depperschmidt added that if it catches on, there is the chance that it could also be brought to other communities in the county.

By Russ Baldwin

 

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