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RANGELY | Nearly 30 folks turned out Tuesday, Feb. 28 for the Rangely Community Networking Group meeting at CNCC which featured Associated Governments of Northwestern Colorado (AGNC) Executive Director Bonnie Petersen. Prior to her current role at AGNC, Petersen was executive director of Club 20 in Grand Junction from 2011 to 2014. Previously, she worked as the public policy director for Qwest Communications. She also owned a home construction business. Petersen came to AGNC in January 2015.
Petersen described AGNC as the council of governments representing the towns and counties of northwest Colorado—the core of which includes Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties. In addition, Clear Creek, Grand and Jackson counties are included in our Northwest Enterprise Zone and Petersen expects Gilpin County to be included soon.
She added that Delta and Montrose counties are also part of the mix as they are associate AGNC members. All in all, the association can be said to represent 63 percent of the state’s land area. AGNC is the only council of governments in the state to have “boots on the ground” at the state legislature.
The mission of AGNC is to communicate with, inform and reflect the needs of its member governments and promote the values, industries and economies of Northwest Colorado. Petersen urged folks to check out the AGNC website at agnc.org, which lists the organization’s activities.
AGNC is the administrator of our Enterprise Zone through the program established by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to provide tax credits to businesses that locate to or expand in designated, economically stressed parts of the state.
Also, AGNC manages the Dinosaur Welcome Center, at the junction of U.S. Hwy 40 and State Hwy 64, in cooperation with Colorado Tourism.
State and federal issues in which AGNC is currently engaged include the value of our public lands; BLM management plans (reforming BLM’s 2.0 planning rule) and land use mapping in collaboration with Colorado Parks and Wildlife; greater sage grouse habitat mapping; proper distribution of Oil Shale Trust Fund monies; the federal Payment In-Lieu of Taxes program; community entrance signs off highways; supporting the Jordan Cove Liquid Natural Gas Export Facility (Oregon) which will provide a broader market for Colorado fossil fuel; severance tax improvements; state transportation priorities; establishing an Economic Development District; and working to build a “Connect for Colorado” virtual job marketing center for the Western Slope.
Petersen urged citizens to get involved—and emphasized the need to have AGNC people willing to testify on the issues. Rangely town trustee Andy Key pointed out the value of the state Jump Start program which must be integrated with the local college (CNCC). He thinks the program can be really helpful and should be further explored by our communities.