EDCC HOLDS REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FORUM IN NORTHWEST COLORADO
Northwest Colorado Positioned Well to Cultivate a Skills-based Labor Pool and Manufacturing Cluster
Craig, CO – On Wednesday, July 11 the Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) held its Regional Economic Development Forum, focusing on Region 11, including Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, and Mesa Counties. These regional forums have given the statewide organization and its members an in-depth view of the economic challenges and opportunities facing our communities around the state. Over 85 statewide economic development stakeholders were in attendance and engaged with experts on different ways that communities can utilize their assets, create investment interests, build a skilled labor workforce, build industry to support that workforce, all while helping to expand their local economies.
Known for its boundless natural resources, Region 11’s strengths are in health & wellness, outdoor recreation, energy & natural resources, transportation & logistics, and infrastructure engineering. The region is seeing emerging industry clusters including healthcare, the arts, professional services, and manufacturing.
Placemaking played a big role in each of the day’s sessions. Focusing on quality and aesthetic value as we develop our communities creates unique advantages. This includes everything from the type of house we want to live in, to walkable amenities, to the promotion of culture and historical resources. Clark Anderson with Community Builders stressed the importance of place as we look to attract talent and business.
The theme continued as a panel of local experts discussed the recent developments in the Opportunity Zones Program. Colorado has risen to be a leader for its swift implementation and convening of eligible parties. This has gained Colorado national recognition and has the state in a good position to compete for national investment. Though stalled for the time being while the Treasury determines its guidelines, investment firms are gearing up to make a move. Four Points Funding has committed to a short-term Pilot Fund to help kick-start the momentum, while the Telluride Foundation is looking for ways that philanthropy can play a role.
Stephanie Copeland, Executive Director, Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade gave keynote address at Wednesday’s luncheon.
Other key take-aways from the day included the opportunity for Region 11 to harness the next generation of skilled-labor by incorporating skills-based learning in each stage of the educational system. SKILLFUL – A Markle Initiative, Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium, NW, and Colorado Northwest Community College participated. As industry now follows talent, industry will take notice to the newly formed clustering of talent. This, in turn, will help retain the talent to become tomorrow’s leaders.
This tied in well with the day’s last session on growing a manufacturing cluster in this region. Perspectives from TradeHub International, Denver-based Lockheed Martin, Grand Junction’s Wren Industries, and Colorado Northwestern Community College, helped highlight the areas of opportunities that will help grow the industry through awareness, education, and needed infrastructure.
“As Mayor John Ponikvar pointed out in his opening remarks, change is constant. Those who are flexible, courageous and innovative in the face of change will win the future. Today’s session signaled to me that the communities of Northwest Colorado have the tools and the grit needed to be successful,” said Jeremy Rietmann, Board Chair and Town Manager for the Town of Gypsum.
READ highlights from the day’s sessions: Craig Daily Press
Special thanks to our event supporters:
Presenting Sponsor, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association | Statewide Partner, Colorado Workforce Development Council | Regional Sponsors, Steamboat Springs Chamber & Resort Association, Rio Blanco County, and Memorial Regional Hospital | Media Sponsor, Craig Daily Press