by Larry Patrick
HUERFANO- The Governor’s Bottom-Up Program will get input from citizens and businesses of Huerfano County following their meeting last week. Around 30 people showed up at the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg last Wednesday to discuss the three questions the Governor’s program seeks to address. The first question asks what government programs, regulations, or initiatives hinder businesses in each county. The second question asks what resources are needed to grow and support businesses locally. The third asks what community infrastructure is needed to maintain or grow businesses in Huerfano County.
The four appointed leaders for this task force in Huerfano County who facilitated the program Wednesday were County Commissioner Art Bobian, Bill Gray of the Department of Local Affairs, Hospital Administrator Todd Oberheu and Al Tucker, who is helping spearhead economic development in the area. They divided those in attendance into 3 groups to discuss the questions brought before them. While each of the 3 groups had different concerns listed in a different order, it was not difficult to summarize the conclusions.
Problems that some felt were keeping Huerfano County down that could either be attributed to government or solved by government were high taxes, high sewer rates, lack of a trained workforce and regulations on agriculture to name a few.
It was decided that resources to support the following were most important for economic development in the county: increasing job skills for the local labor force; improving the schools; diversifying the economic base; encouraging growth of existing businesses and industry and improving the quality of life.
To maintain and grow businesses, suggestions were made to improve community infrastructure: maintain a resource list locally of where to go to for help, maintain a strong economic development group, develop youth training programs, evaluate the needs of agriculture and develop local jobs from current businesses & industry.
The ideas generated in the Huerfano County meeting will now be combined with those expressed in Las Animas County because the two counties make up Region 14 in the state. The ideas of the other 13 regions will then be combined with our area. The Governor’s Bottom-Up task force will then see which 2-3 ideas stand out to assist the most counties in the state and help get the economy of Colorado moving forward.
May 15th is the deadline for completing this phase of the program so that ideas can be formulated and active plans put in place. Governor John Hickenlooper believes that asking the people of Colorado what concerns and needs they have and working it from the bottom up through the system is better than having committees formed by the governor’s office study the matter and filter their ideas down from the top.
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