RBC I Earlier this month, Rio Blanco County and the Town of Meeker signed a contract to run through the rest of the year with Better City LLC for the facilitation of strategies for Better City’s “Economic Development Strategies Phase IV Report—Recommended Action Plan.”
This plan was produced at the end of 2015. Facilitation of the plan was then put out for bid in January, and Better City LLC was the only bidder.
Better City LLC is a consulting firm out of Ogden, Utah. The Ogden Better City LLC has a motto which is “We change communities by developing strategic plans and implementing them.”
The Meeker/RBC contract addresses the focus of the earlier Better City effort to create jobs and diversify the local economic base. Specifically, the company is to help the town and county accomplish downtown redevelopment with an emphasis on developing a hunting and fishing training facility; creation of a downtown housing project; and recruiting businesses to form a shooting sports business cluster.
Elements of the hunting and fishing training facility implementation include using at least one public meeting to refine the concept with public and political support; conducting a feasibility analysis of all aspects of the construction and operation of the facility; and organizing and coordinating efforts to establish the necessary “strategic partnerships” with such groups as the National Rifle Association, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and private foundations.
Elements of the downtown housing project include conducting a feasibility analysis to determine the demand for new housing and defining the most marketable product; assembling the land ownership agreements that would be necessary; and recruiting a developer willing and able to take on the project.
Elements of the shooting sports business cluster include identifying the industries of interest; analyzing the broad market to identify potential recruiting targets; and preparing the necessary presentation and marketing materials, highlighting the benefits of locating a business presence as part of the cluster.
Details of the training facility effort include the public being able to consider the concept, add additional ideas and challenge assumptions. Public support, Better City maintains, is critical to securing certain financing sources.
Site selection is required and dependent upon determinations of land size needed, site options and the willingness of landowners to participate. Concurrently, a private facility operator, who would be expected to share in the risk, must be recruited.
Further details must include construction drawings, soliciting bids and developing total cost estimates. It is considered that a private operating entity would better have the tenacity to invest in the necessary marketing to keep the facility busy year-around. The effort is clearly envisioned to be a major private-public partnership.
With regard to the new housing, Better City is expected to work with Natural Soda and other significant employers in the county to better define the type of housing product most desired by and, perhaps, least available to, the workforce. Land requirements and availability must be analyzed, and an able and willing developer recruited.
For the shooting sports business cluster, Better City will pursue recruitment targets and identify possible tax incentives that may be necessary. The plan envelops a vision for the Meeker shooting sports culture and atmosphere that should be attractive to the right entrepreneurs.
In summary, the Better City effort is to assist the town and the county in creating a more robust and diverse economy, ultimately increasing the number of high paying primary jobs and business opportunities.
Katelin Cook, county economic development coordinator, and Meeker Town Administrator Scott Meszaros have been designated as agreement administrators for the Better City contract. The current year contract amount is $100,000 with $25,000 each coming from the Town of Meeker and the County, and a $50,000 matching grant from DOLA.
Cook said, “Rio Blanco County is excited to partner with the Town of Meeker, the state Department of Local Affairs, Better City and other community organizations, to make a true, positive impact on the community. Taking steps to diversify our economic base is imperative to ensuring Meeker is a viable community for future generations.
“Natural resource extraction will continue to be the largest driver of the local economic base,” she said. “But enhancing additional industries is needed to lessen the economic boom-and-bust cycles we experience.”
For more information and copies of Better City’s “Community Assessment, Demographic Study and Market Analysis” or “2015—Phase IV Recommended Action Plan,” Cook can be reached at 970-878-9474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information is also available on the county website, www.rbc.us, economic development homepage icon.