PEP Board Receives 2021 Summary

 

 

The need for new housing construction and renovation will remain the primary goal for Prowers Economic Prosperity, the economic development organization which serves the county.  Executive Director, Cheryl Sanchez provided an overview of notable developments for 2021 for board members during their monthly meeting on Monday, January 17th at their South Main Street headquarters in Lamar.

A focus on manufacturing development is an additional goal, Sanchez said, as well as assisting with marketing to outside regions and continuing to develop E-commerce through social media avenues. Other areas such as expanding PEP board members beyond the current 17 who help sustain the organization is another 2022 goal and a continuation of a series of business needs assessments through the new year.   Sanchez also expanded upon her earlier announcement that this year would be a starting point to find a successor to be mentored to assume her position over a two-to-three-year period.  “I’d like to pursue economic outreach projects where I can visit potential clients in conferences and face-to-face meetings while the new director can focus their attention on maintaining and expanding current businesses,” she explained.  Board members agreed noting that past director transitions have left lengthy gaps between hires as well as time spent acquainting a new project director with the area and re-establishing business contacts, locally and at a state level.  Board members generally agreed PEP would be best served by recruiting an individual from the area as opposed to seeking a candidate with no prior knowledge of southeast Colorado or who could fit into a rural lifestyle.

Job growth will also be a focus in five areas in the county, she said, including: manufacturing, distribution, transportation, agriculture and retail businesses.  County Commissioner, Tom Grasmick, said there are people in the area who do want to work as evidenced by the turnout of job applicants for two new state-level businesses that are headquartered in Granada.  One operation began last year with 22 employees and recently hired 15, while the new Overflow Processing Center has brought on 25 employees at its inception.  “Don’t let anyone tell you people aren’t willing to work,” he stated.  Board member, Joe Spitz, added to the discussion, saying some focus should be given to outdoor jobs in the agricultural and ranching sector, “There’s a need for riders and other positions along those lines.”

While reluctant to allow performance numbers to be an indicator of overall performance or potential, Sanchez said there were 151 new business licenses in 2021 with 35 of those from the 81052 zip code region and total licenses climbed from 420 the year before to 455 for 2021.  This lead to 85 new jobs she was aware of and through the past year, she had responded to 36 business inquiries.  She added that if everyone current project comes to fruition over the next three to five years, the county could see job growth from 288 to 328 new hires.

Lamar Re-2 School District Superintendent, Chad Krug, was the invited guest at the board meeting.  He provided a brief synopsis of the district’s efforts to maintain an interest in academics among the school students at the high school level, given the difficulties of dealing with the pandemic for over a year.  “We want to be able to find unique and creative ways for kids to be turned on by learning.  We still work to get our students motivated to learn, he explained,” adding that a prime task is finding the specific motivators for each student as they approach graduation and begin to think about their futures.  The Superintendent emphasized that the district offers a variety of options to masking, vaccination and attendance to best suit each student and their families.

He provided an account of the development of a mascot logo committee, tasked with developing a new logo or logo/mascot that would be in keeping with the new state mandate of cleaning up Native American imagery used by Colorado schools and approved by the Commission of Indian Affairs by this June.  The next PEP board meeting will be February 21st at noon.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureChamber of CommerceCity of GranadaCity of HollyCity of LamarCity of WileyCollegeConsumer IssuesCountyCOVID-19EconomyEducationEmploymentFeaturedHousingSchoolTransportationUtilitiesYouth

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