PEP Outlines Shared Economic Concerns with La Junta



Rick Robbins, PEP President, shared the highlights of a recent meeting with his economic development counterparts from La Junta. “We visited with Brian Burney, CEO of Oliver Manufacturing in La Junta and Economic Development Director, Ryan Stevens,” explained Robbins, during the PEP meeting on May 16th.  “We have a lot of similarities and right now, La Junta is attempting to communicate with a larger sector in this region.  They want to develop more manufacturing through the six towns in Otero County, exchange ideas and grow and train a reliable work force.  They told us that they believe Lamar Community College is leading them in these efforts,” Robbins added.

He said Lamar is attempting similar efforts and as an example, businesspeople from Lamar Rotary will begin meeting with students from the HOPE project about ideas on how students can think about their future careers. Other shared interests with La Junta included apprentice programs and if not the retention of young people in the community, re-attracting former residents to make a return and a commitment to their old communities.

PEP Executive Director, Eric Depperschmidt, has visited Wiley and Granada town councils, securing resolutions from them for a commitment to work with the Rural Jump Start program which provides for tax incentives for new businesses that work within a specific set of guidelines. “I visited with the Granada Trustees at their May 10th meeting and will meet with the Holly Trustees during their meeting in June,” he explained.

Depperschmidt spoke in general terms about prospective business expansion in Prowers County. He said several manufacturing sites were visited including Sutrak, C.F. Maier and the new business venture, Gateway Flares in Lamar.  “They need to finalize their fire suppression system before they can start manufacturing.”  Other ventures included several in the health care field, an agriculture business looking to expand into Prowers County, a proposal for a retail store in Holly, another ag-oriented business which is expanding their operation, probably by this summer and another health care venture that has acquired land, but needs assistance with funding for a feasibility study to qualify for a USDA guaranteed loan program.  The executive director said PEP continues to develop a sustained interest throughout the county and two businesses have signed on with financial support, Wallace Gas and Oil and Michael Beard with Ed Jones Investors.

Pat Palmer outlined the recent efforts of the group seeking to place a new motel tax on the local November ballot. Like the current tax, the only impact comes from motel room usage in the county.  The new tax, at 5%, would apply only to Lamar motels and would be used only for projects in Lamar.  “This is an informal petition that is being circulated and is only to show community awareness and support for the ordinance to the Lamar City Council,” he explained.

Rachel Patrick, Director for the Small Business Development Center for southeast Colorado, provided an overview of her services for the region, assisting small business expansion and development as well as marketing and business information classes. Patrick provided brochures for a series of classes on QuickBooks software scheduled for Lamar Community College on June 9th, July 14th and August 11th.  RSVPs are available through her office at 719-384-6959.  Offices in southeast Colorado are in La Junta, Ordway, Rocky Ford, Lamar Community College and Patrick stated she is now assuming duties at the Trinidad office as well.  The next PEP meeting will be at Noon on Tuesday, June 6th at the Rodeway Cow Palace Inn.

By Russ Baldwin



Filed Under: AgricultureCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyCollegeConsumer IssuesCountyEconomyEducationEmploymentFeaturedTourismTransportation


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