Lamar Leaders Seek Economic Opportunities at Ute Powwow

Lamar Mayor, Kirk Crespin and Rob Evans, City Administrator, expressed optimism for future talks with representatives of the Southern Ute and Mountain Ute tribes during a recent tribal council and powwow held in Towaoc, Colorado earlier this month.

The initial meeting was the result of the city and Prowers Economic Prosperity hiring J.B. Cisneros to find new revenue sources for funding, especially among regional tribal organizations, an area with which he is well acquainted.  It’s an untapped source of funding and according to Cisneros, the first venture of its kind for Colorado.  JB Cisneros is an analyst for CERF, Community Economic Resilience Fund.

Crespin remarked that both parties feel there could be a mutual benefit from a future alliance for economic development for both parties.

“This is a first venture for all of us,” Crespin said, adding that he could see a future bond through shared interests in both communities, Lamar and nearby Cortez, Colorado.  Tribal members are considering an investment in southeast Colorado to diversify their economic portfolio.  Initial interests centered on vocational training in building trades for their youth as well as health care courses, both of which are offered at Lamar Community College.  Tribal members also have expressed an interest in agricultural ventures with their turn-key development with processing blue corn products through the mill and packing plant they constructed as well as manufacturing and marketing their own line of blue corn products.

Lamar can help with water infrastructure ventures.  Crespin said the Ute tribe has built up a considerable volume of water in their Navajo Reservoir, but has a limited delivery system.  Lamar could assist them in grant development.  The Ute tribes are eligible to receive grant funding larger than Lamar’s potential in that area.

Both sides expressed concerns about the loss of youth in their communities.  Tribal leaders said that it is not easy to have young members return to their reservations once they have left, while Lamar and other towns have noted an increase in ‘boomerangers’, those who moved away as younger adults, but have expressed desires to return to their hometowns after being away for several decades.

Crespin told the PEP board that Lamar is planning to host Ute members in the future to help establish an on-going dialogue between both groups.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureChamber of CommerceCity of LamarCountyEmploymentFeaturedPublic SafetyTransportationWater


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