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MEEKER I Meeker Chamber of Commerce executive director Katelin Cook continues to bring people “to the table” in an effort to build relationships and create partnerships to work on economic development in the area.
“Right now is a pivotal time for our business community and there is great momentum moving forward on economic development activities and developments,” Cook said after the most recent economic development meeting last Monday, which was attended by several business owners and Kari Linker from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
“Our efforts are focusing on business retention and expansion,” Cook said. “We need to help our existing businesses while we continue searching for new business prospects.”
Representatives from many of the special districts on the eastern end of Rio Blanco County attended a meeting last week, facilitated by Cook and Rio Blanco County administrator Kimberly Bullen, where representatives discussed future plans for their districts.
Ken Harmon, CEO of Pioneers Medical Center, representing the Eastern Rio Blanco County Health District said they are looking at sites to build a new hospital but did not want to discuss the sites at this time.
Michael Weinbrecht, executive director of the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Parks District said his district has recently completed a master plan and are making plans to possibly expand their facility and services in the future. ERBM took over the town parks this summer, completed a hiking, biking trail in the Phillip and Dorcas Jensen Memorial Park and are building a new park in Sanderson Hills.
Bullen reported the county is working on an airport expansion in Meeker, continued work on RBC Road 5 (Piceance Creek) and possible expansion of the justice center/jail.
Cook, who is also a trustee for the Town of Meeker, reported work on the Market Street Sidewalk project, possible expansion to the Berry Brothers Property and the possibility of a dollar store coming to town.
The Meeker Cemetery District has expanded west and Todd Morris, president of the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District, said his district did not have plans for expansion but is in need of more volunteers.
Travis Day, representing the Meeker Sanitation District, said they continue to replace lines and are looking at upgrades to the treatment plant and superintendent of schools Susan Goettel said they are ready to start the new school year.
“This will be a community-wide initiative involving our local and regional business communities, local, state and federal government agencies and our local special taxing districts,” Cook said.
The group would like to see infrastructure (water and sewer) extended from the east end of Meeker, at least to the Curtis Creek industrial park, so as to have “shovel ready” sites available for future development and they would like the special districts to contribute financially to accomplish the goal.
The group also discussed future development of land owned by Berry Brothers northeast of Meeker along Highway 13 and surrounding the airport. Cook said the group plans to meet with the special districts again Sept. 25 or 26.
“In working with Kari Linker, she told us we are lucky to have the amount of available land open for development, while many areas of the state are hard-pressed to find enough land to continue building, Meeker has several sites available,” Cook said. “With added infrastructure and appropriate zoning, these areas would be great assets to us in terms of future expansion, development, sales tax revenue and jobs.”