Expanded PEP Board Holds Initial Meeting

Anne-Marie Crampton and Lawrence Brase, Board Members

Anne-Marie Crampton and Lawrence Brase, Board Members

More new faces were seated around the table as the PEP Board of Directors met October 18th to discuss progress on their search for a new executive director for Prowers Economic Prosperity.  Members also discussed the salary range for the position, between $55,000 and $75,000, as well as a benefits package, including health, which will stay within the financial parameters of the budgeted salary.  Two options were discussed; one is a basic dollar payment from which the new director can search for their own insurance coverage on the open market or a set price submitted by the PEP board.  The discussion was tabled pending additional information on the costs involved for either choice.  Angie Cue said the committee is close to a final draft at this point and PEP President, Rick Robbins, has been recruiting on his own while attending a convention along the Front Range.  The board plans to have the candidate hired and ready to begin their duties by the first week of January.


Board Members: Campbell, L’Estrange, Hourieh, Thrall, Otto and Gonzales

Discussion followed on how to provide an edge for a local business entrepreneur versus a potentially identical ‘shovel ready’ franchise which also had an interest in developing a retail store in the county. Angie Cue, the Lamar Community Development Director, has been in contact with the Buxton group, which searches for a business which could be a good fit to meet the retail needs of the community.  “We have been working out the timeline of their reports for us based on research they conducted beginning in March to the present,” she explained.  Cue said that once the information is complete, Buxton will help create a report which will be presented to potential retailers, as well as a general listing of retail businesses that would fit our market based on their data.  “It should be completed by November and we’ll be ready to go by the first of the year,” she stated.  Cue added the information will be important for both the City of Lamar and the county in general and the new PEP Executive Director will find the information a valuable tool in their work.

PEP Treasurer, Lawrence Brase, inquired if there were any limitations on making the Buxton retail information available to the general public, if it would be useful to a local entrepreneur in deciding to commit to a business venture. “Would they get the same benefits from the study that Buxton sends to potential businesses?” he asked.  Cue suggested the information could be made available at public meetings before national chain operations receive it.  “Quite a few of these franchises are investment or personally owned, but a consideration for local interests to receive the information is quite possible,” she said.  She added she was ‘blown away’ by the level of detail in local shopping habits and consumer needs the Buxton study was able to provide in their initial reports of the community.

Cue replied to a question about shared or proprietary territory in business development between herself and the new executive director. She stated, “We’ll work closely together and we will come to a decision about that process when they’ve been hired.  I would not recruit a business without their support though, and I believe it would be more appropriate for them to make contact with a potential retail business first.”  Doug Thrall suggested a type of periodic ‘think tank’, or a how-to seminar would be useful to impart business development information to local residents entertaining ideas about starting their own retail or service business.  He said perhaps speakers with expertise in banking and loans, internet services and retailers could be a local source of information.

A commitment agreement form for board members was discussed; similar to the standard  form the former PCDI board operated under. The new form stresses the commitment the PEP members agree to undertake to remain on the board.  Areas regarding conflicts of interest, attendance as a high priority and the need to be prepared to discuss issues based on becoming familiar with each meeting agenda was highlighted.  Board Secretary, Aaron Leiker, explained the lack of a confidentiality clause in the new agreement as, after legal review, it was felt the board could be held liable if one of the members spoke out of turn on a private business matter.  “This way actually reduces the liability of the organization if that should occur,” he explained, adding that the PUMA President, Brad Segal, drafted the new agreement during his final meeting with the PEP board.  Doug Thrall said he felt the lack of confidentiality for a new business venture might turn away prospective clients.  It became a moot point several moments later as Prowers County Commissioner, Ron Cook, expressed some concern that the county, through its membership on the board, could be held responsible in a potential lawsuit through a confidentiality breach.  He recommended that the county attorney review the agreement before any action was taken and the board agreed to table the matter.

Board members decided to meet twice a month through the remainder of the year, on the first and third Tuesdays, until the new executive director is hired and brought up to speed on the community they’ll represent.

By Russ Baldwin

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