PCDI Hosts Annual Meeting, New Director Vote

PCDI Board at 2016  Annual Election

PCDI Board at 2016 Annual Election

The annual Prowers County Development Incorporated annual meeting held Tuesday, March 29th at the Rodeway Cow Palce Inn was brief and had a low attendance, as was anticipated on both counts.

Minus an executive director for over a year by choice and circumstances, there was no annual director’s report to summarize developments from the preceding year. The evening’s highlight was the election of four candidates for board of directors from five entries. All four members who’s terms were expiring ran successfully for re-election: John Marrin, Aaron Leiker, Doug Thrall and Cindy Otto. Don Filbeck, local realtor, was the fifth candidate. The election of officers was also brief with Rick Robbins and Aaron Leiker remaining as president and vice-president, respectively. Kenia Vazquez was also re-elected as treasurer.

Rick Robbins and Aaron Leiker

Rick Robbins and Aaron Leiker

Robbins addressed the audience on the board’s hopes to increase business growth in the county through the study being conducted by the firm, PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates. Representatives have met with officials from each community in the county and have completed the first aspect of a three stage study which will be comprised of specific guidelines and suggestions that will be followed to develop business growth in the county. The $50,000 study is being financed by PCDI, Prowers County, the City of Lamar and Holly and Granada. It’s expected to make a presentation to the county towards the end of the summer.

Commissioner Ron Cook, who represents the county on the PCDI board, referenced PCDI’s financial commitment to COSI, Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, donating $5,000 along with $10,000 from the county towards an $18,000 goal which will be matched to provide academic scholarships to local residents who wish to continue their secondary education.

During a question and answer session, Granada resident, Tom Grasmick, asked Robbins about the feasibility of establishing a county tax to help develop incentive funds for business growth. He offered ½% as a starting point. Grasmick, who is a former Granada Trustee and a candidate for Prowers County Commissioner in the November General Election, stated that the county is unable to compete for other businesses developing in the county. He said that PEDCO in Pueblo can almost literally buy a business to come to that city, while poorer towns that can still offer an attractive lifestyle, have no means to compete at that level. Robbins replied, “I think if you can buy a business to come to your town, it can also be bought away from you by another investor.” He stated that one problem being faced in the county is the high cost of buying or building a home. “It’s almost impossible to find funding to build a house in a community like Granada, because the market almost puts the mortgage underwater in terms of the house’s worth once it’s been built,” he stated, adding there isn’t much of a premium housing market in the county to attract a business to move here or sustain a number of new employees.

Aaron Leiker noted that the PUMA study can open some new directions for economic development for the community, “They may develop a different approach from what we’ve done in the past or they may have a new set of criteria that would address a new executive director. This board may have suggestions completely different from the way we’re conducting business now. We’ll have to wait and see what they suggest.” He added that one area of similarity in the county is that each town has its own set of ideas for development. “Nobody has agreed on what direction to follow, no matter which community has commented on the issue. We aren’t unified in our goals and this has hurt us in the past, even to what type of executive director we should hire next and what their goals should be,” he said. “I believe that the PUMA study will give us a direction to follow and we need to stick to it to make it happen,” Leiker stated.

Along with Grasmick, other communities were represented by Jerry L’Estrange, Holly Town Administrator, Frank Vazquez, Holly Trustee, Alan Campbell, Wiley Mayor, Jo Dorenkamp, County Administrator and Wendy Buxton-Andrade, County Commissioner. The next regular PCDI meeting will be held at 7am on Tuesday, April 26th.

By Russ Baldwin


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