Pep Holds Industrial Roundtable Meeting



Michael Ward, Regional Director for Manufacturer’s Edge of Southern Colorado was the guest speaker at the Industrial Roundtable Luncheon of PEP, Prowers Economic Prosperity organization, hosted by Lamar Light and Power this past Thursday, October 24th.

Ward presented an overview of Manufacturer’s Edge, a public/private partnership which provides small manufacturers with services to help grow their businesses. The organization is also a member of MEP, Manufacturing Extension Partner in Colorado. The state has 6,000 manufacturers and 80% of them employ less than 20 people, with some exceptions, a sample of most businesses in Prowers County.

Roundtable attendees included Axel Thurner, Rick Robbins, Todd and Sarah Hornung, Mike Bryant, Brad Simon from Holly, Houssin Hourieh, Commissioner Ron Cook and Tara Hosick, consulting Executive Director of PEP who, with Robbins, hosted the gathering.

Ward explained that Manufacturer’s Edge provides business and analysis guidelines to smaller manufacturers in the state using grant funds. “We can offer alternatives for your future expansion plans and can connect you to resources to help you achieve those goals,” he explained.   Each of the business owners laid out some of the issues they have faced with the current business climate in the state and how that economy impacts their operation in Prowers County.

Some common areas included finding workers from a pool of qualified employees from the local workforce population. The latest state figures show Prowers County was at 2.1% unemployment as of this past September, one of the lowest figures in some time. The Hornings, former owners of Gateway Flare Company in Lamar as well as one or two other managers all said that if word got around town they were hiring, the number of applicants seemed to grow from that source. Sarah Horning noted that even though they had a standard resume and application form, they worked with applicants who used other avenues to outline their past work experience. “We would work with them from the information they provided to us,” she said, noting that while their special equipment required some training, the most success they had was from a 19 year old employee who showed a complete grasp of the technical aspects while other, more experienced employees, took longer to adapt to the equipment.

They also suggested that the steps needed to begin a new business in the community needed to be more user friendly with some exceptions. “SECED was a great help to us when we arrived in Lamar,” Todd Horning told the gathering. State and federal rules and regulations and storage of bulk materials was another issue that was discussed.

Hosick explained the roundtables focus on such aspects in the county as quality of life and housing, workforce development, small business entrepreneurs and business attraction and retention. She explained, “We’re planning on other roundtable categories for our task force including Ag, Value-Added Ag, Health and Retail sales and marketing.” She said PEP will also be working on a future meeting at the school level with a program known as the Home Grown Talent Initiative, a means by which those students who may become discouraged in their studies, may be turned around when shown employment options they can pursue.

By Russ Baldwin

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