County/City of Lamar Receives PCDI-PEP Talk

Aaron Leiker and Rick Robbins Outline PEP Plans with City/County

Aaron Leiker and Rick Robbins Outline PEP Plans with City/County

Board members of PCDI/PEP, Prowers Economic Prosperity, have been busy since the middle of July, seeking funding for the next three years from the private/business/banking sectors of Prowers County. According to Rick Robbins and Aaron Leiker, President and Vice-President of PEP, they have been meeting with success in their endeavors, so far, raising a three-year commitment of $32,500 per year from various banks and businesses which will help pay for a seasoned executive director and support staff for the organization which is currently undergoing a transition into a more defined board of directors, armed with concrete economic develop goals and plans to attain them.

The board plans to raise a minimum of $135,000 for each of the next three years and has been seeking contributions from Prowers County, the private sector in the county and from the City of Lamar. The city council met with Robbins and Leiker during a joint budget work session held Monday, August 22nd with Prowers County Commissioners.  The county appears to be on board with the financial commitment, but the city made no promises pending its ability to structure their 2017 budget to meet additional expenditures for the approaching year.

Robbins said board members will spend the next several weeks making appointments and meeting with business leaders from all the towns in the county to see if they’re willing to make a financial commitment before PEP’s final meeting with PUMA, Progressive Urban Management Associates in mid-September to review the organization’s final economic development plans for the county. At their July visit, PUMA presented the board with a 72 page outline which will serve all the communities in Prowers County with guidelines for business development and jobs creation. “We’re actually doing better than expected and we’d like to be able to have $50,000 committed for a third and have the city and the county match that for funding,” Robbins stated to county and city officials.  PUMA was hired for $50,000 for an eight month economic assessment of the county’s economic strengths and weaknesses.

Leiker said the people they’ve met with have been impressed on the merits of the 72 page outline alone. Robbins added, “I had people in my office who, the day after they met with PUMA and reviewed this outline, were willing to sign on for a financial commitment.”  He said, “They were also interested in a seat at the table and their willingness to commit to this will help that come to pass.”  One of the PUMA recommendations was expanding the PEP board of directors by up to at least 15 members from the current nine.  Representation from the other communities, not just Lamar, was also strongly emphasized in the report.  PEP board members recently held discussions with Prowers Medical Center and High Plains Community Health Center and board members have received financial commitments from Frontier Bank, Valley State Bank, another unnamed financial institution is conferring with it’s board members as well as a business from Holly, SECPA/SECOM, Colorado Mills, the Cow Palace Inn and KVAY Radio.

If a portion of the business development process is being able to bring people together to problem solve, the board is already on the right track, according to Leiker. “Through our discussions with businesses, we’re already solving some issues.  We had two people tell us about their issues, and through our talks an investor said, ‘We can help you solve that problem.’  Just by getting people together at the table, and not even working through PEP yet; but just because we had the right people at the table.  It’s a positive step we want to continue.”

By Russ Baldwin

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