PEP Focus Meeting Prioritizes Housing as Key to County’s Economic Growth



Almost three years after PCDI, Prowers County Development Incorporated, downsized the number of its board members, hired an executive director and transitioned into PEP, Prowers Economic Prosperity, members compared their initial goals to current priorities. This past Friday, January 11th,   working with strategic plan expert, Sheryl Trent, of SBrand Consulting, members conducted a day long review of how well PEP has functioned in accomplishing the goals it set out to achieve regarding economic development within Prowers County.  Medium to upper level priced housing was acknowledged to be the prime ingredient in sustained economic development and job growth.  The Lamar City Council recently held their own work session to assess the current housing situation and potential development for the local rental and housing market.

Trent suggested that the original 75 page PEP outline for growing the county’s economy should be drastically downsized to only eight or ten pages, “You’re not going to find many developers who will read beyond the first or second page,” she advised. Trent stressed the need to constant set deadlines based on for compiling information, setting up working groups based on various subjects ranging from quality of life, retirement, housing, community outreach and marketing, manufacturing, trucking and agri-business.  Board members made a commitment to have a first report for their groups by a specific calendar date, ranging from three months out, six months, a year and even so far as the next three years.  Members also committed to begin to set a schedule to make personal visits to the businesses within Prowers County for a determination of their needs and potential buy-in for an eventual alliance.

PEP initiated several roundtable meetings in 2016, based on some general needs in the county and housing was a prime focus at the time. A housing needs assessment conducted from July through October, 2017, by the Community Strategies Institute for SECED, Southeast Colorado Enterprise Development was presented by Tom Hart of CSI at the SECED offices last year which was attending by various community representatives as well as several local realtors.  Although the roundtable meetings fell behind in scheduling, more were planned during PEP’s final meeting of 2018.

Trent said she will provide PEP members with a brief overview of the focus meeting and a follow-up report which contains specifics on the new set of goals and a means of achieving them. The next general PEP meeting will be held Tuesday, February 5th.  Board members will also set a date in March for the group’s annual meeting.
By Russ Baldwin

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