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PEP Receives OEDIT Grant and Local Funding

 

PEP Board at Wiley Town Complex

Some new business ventures have shown a local interest in the county. Eric Depperschmidt, Prowers Economic Prosperity Executive Director, briefed PEP board members as well as the Wiley Town Council during the October monthly meeting which was held in the Wiley Town Complex.

Brenda May Announces Funding for PEP

Depperschmidt highlighted three meetings held this past September with prospective business developers. Confidentiality issues prevented the director from being more specific, but he cited one retail business which is interested in locating in Lamar and could employ up to ten full-time and 10 part-time employees.  They’ll do a feasibility study to see how they can move their project forward.  Another prospect is interested in manufacturing trailer machinery which would be used in oilfields and inquired about an incentive package.  He said that one of their interests in the area was lower priced land and salaries that a larger city would normally demand.  The third prospect was considerably larger in scope and would be more of a county-wide operation as an agriculture-based food processor.  “They’re currently reviewing communities which would be a best fit for them,” he explained.

“Their main concerns right now are employment, land and grain, specifically corn production in the county,” Depperschmidt told the gathering. He said that as far as he knows, there would be adequate local supplies without a need to expand acreage for more grain production.  He said the other concern was a sufficient employee reserve as the scope of the project would warrant workers from all of the towns in the county, not just Lamar.  “We’ve shared community profile information with the developers and we will see if we make it to the next level of their review period,” he explained.  He added it would take the involvement of every community in the county to make this work and probably additional communities outside of Prowers County.

Depperschmidt thanked board members, Angie Cue, Anne Marie Crampton and Dr. Linda Lujan for their efforts in securing a $15,000 grant from the Certified Small Business Community through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).  “We applied for $30,000 but have been told that we received $15,000 which will be formally announced on October 11th. The funds are being earmarked at $10,000 for a consultant from the Small Business Development Center or hiring one jointly with another community and $5,000 for the SBDC to assist their projects and programs in Prowers County,” he explained.

PEP board members were advised of a financial windfall by Brenda May of TBK Bank in Lamar which had been handling the Greater Lamar Improvement Company (GLIC) funds for several decades. As, over the years, the corporation’s managers had either moved or passed away, the suggestion was made to donate the balance to PEP as the goals of both organizations were so similar.  May said the funding, $14,000, would be earmarked for assisting in the development of businesses in the county and not for administrative costs.  May said a motion will have to be filed in District Court to dissolve GLIC and transfer the funds to PEP, which should be carried out by the end of the year barring any objections.  PEP President, Rick Robbins, thanked May on behalf of the board and suggested the funds be put into PEP’s incentive account.

As the Tuesday meeting was held in Wiley and attended by members of the town council, Robbins asked Wiley Mayor, Allen Campbell, to address the board with any issues that could assist his community. Campbell and board member Chuck Miller suggested that if a satellite grocery store from Lamar could be developed in town, it would benefit their community and cut down on travel time.  “Years ago, we had two stores in town,” explained Miller, who said that since their closing, residents had to make the round trip to Lamar to shop.  Allen Campbell said that at one point in the future, the town and the county will have to address the street situation in Wiley, while the recent water and sewer projects have been a benefit.

LCC President, Dr. Linda Lujan, related how the CDL training sessions have seen an almost unexpected demand from around the region. She noted the past couple of sessions had been completely filled, indicating a need that was being satisfied.  On that note, Aaron Leiker, PEP Vice-President, relayed a recent incident in which the construction company affiliated with the new Pilot Truck Stop had asked his radio station, KVAY, for an advertising campaign to seek qualified electrical workers as more were needed to meet the November opening deadline.  Leiker said that on the first day of the schedule, coupled with Facebook announcements, the company had received 48 applications from which they selected the four they needed.  Leiker added, “This helps show there is a capable workforce in the Prowers County area that is willing to work.”

He said planning sessions are also underway for the second annual Southeast Colorado Ag and Livestock Exposition which was held last year at the LCC Wellness Center. Leiker said this year’s event will be on Friday, February 2nd which will feature speakers on ag finance and other related matters.  “The event is free and had 18 vendors last year and we’d like to plan this to grow and diversify each year to present information that can be of benefit to the farmers and ranchers of southeast Colorado.  We’d welcome your input on that matter through our planning sessions.”

Depperschmidt told the board that the PEP office hours in Holly have had some visitors who have discussed some general ideas of small business opportunities in the community. “We’re making ourselves more accessible throughout the county and if there’s interest, we can devote some time to being in Wiley to address citizen concerns and business ideas,” he said.

He said plans are developing for a comprehensive job fair, probably in the spring, which would have at least 25 employers who would attend for future job development for county residents. Depperschmidt said the board roundtables for business development would probably resume at the start of the year, and the recommendation would be for quarterly, instead of monthly meetings.

The next PEP board meeting will be at the Catholic Hall in Holly on Tuesday, November 7th and as it will be a catered event, board members will need to indicate if they will participate.

By Russ Baldwin

 

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