PEP Annual Meeting Details BEAR Essentials




BEAR, as described by Prowers Economic Prosperity (PEP) President, Aaron Leiker, stands for Business Expansion Attraction and Retention, a series of goals that are hoped to be achieved by the economic development organization.

Leiker addressed the annual meeting of PEP, held Monday, March 4th at the Shore Arts Center in downtown Lamar.  “We held a strategic planning session this past January and from that we’ve reduced the original PEP planning document from 78 pages to just five that we mean to put to work,” he explained.  “Of these four priorities, we’re going to focus on expansion and retention and instead of trying to find one business that will come to our county to hire 50 people, we’ll be better suited to help 50 local businesses expand their operation where they can add one additional employee,” he added.

Shelly Dunham of SCEDD


Leiker introduced Shelly Dunham who is heading the Southern Colorado Economic Development District, who just days ago, assumed her new position from which she’ll be working with PEP board members. He also introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Christy Hopkins, Economic Development Director for Tribune, KS, who provided the gathering with some notable economic developments for her community in Greeley County, Kansas.

“We started having a series of community conversations about what our needs are for development in our community and several years ago we started taking steps towards that including the unification of our county and city governments. That move kept funding in our community with insurance savings from two entities to one,” she explained, adding that when one group requested $17,000 for a community project for a park, the town government decided to offer considerably more money, providing financing for that project, but only if responsibilities for running other municipal entities were assumed by the group.

Hopkins said one key to successful development in her community was attained by engaging the boomerang crowd, former high school alumni who, now matured and with families, were returning to Greeley as full-time residents. She said this type of development has been crucial to the communities population growth and economic expansion.

Eric Depperschmidt, PEP Executive Director


PEP Executive Director, Eric Depperschmidt, said he was confident the new BEAR goals that were outlined would help bring more development to the county. He said several roundtable discussions among board members have developed into plans for action that will bring accountability through a specific timetable for finishing some projects that have been outlined in earlier meetings.  Several board members, Michael Beard, Anne Marie Crampton and Dr. Linda Lujan, highlighted areas of interest including addressing housing and rental needs in the community, engaging a quality of life atmosphere in each community, the ability to develop specific marketing and outreach plans to keep local residents informed about PEP activities and funding resources through a sustainability program.
by Russ Baldwin

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