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Last updated 10:58AM ET
December 17, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Four Corners Economy in the Spotlight
(2008-09-11)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: About 125 area businesspeople, politicans, educators and others took a time out for an economic reality check Wednesday, during the Second Annual LaPlata Economic Development Economic Summit.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

LEBLANC: I HOPE THIS ISN'T THE REASON, THERE MAY BE A LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN WHAT PEOPLE SEE IN DURANGO.
VICTOR: Durango City Manager Ron LeBlanc was joined by County Manager Shawn Nau in reporting there are definite signs of an economic slowdown.
Tax revenue's are down.
New construction is virtually non-existent.
LEBLANC: WE NEED TO LOOK AT WHAT WE'RE DOING TO BE COMPETITIVE AND PERHAPS KEEP AN EYE ON WHAT WE'RE HEARING FROM THE BUILDING TRADES INDUSTRY.
But the messages were mixed.
Bayfield Manager Justin Clifton reported tax revenue is up and Bayfield's positioned to be a place of opportunity.
And Southern Ute Tribal officials reported on millions in development plans on both the tribal campus and around Ignacio.
Hundreds of new jobs are expected to be created when the new Southern Ute Casino and Resort complex opens in November.
The Tribe is working to create regional transportation and housing solutions for those new employees and others.
Keynote speakers from Delta and Grand Junction also told attendees how those communities fought back from economic downturns.
Deana Sheriff, director of Delta Area Development, says one way they stimulated their economy was to fast track approvals for new companies.
SHERIFF: IF SOMEBODY WALKS IN, THEY'VE CHECKED OFF ALL THE BOXES, EVERYTHING IS GOOD, WE MOVE IT THROUGH THE SYSTEM FASTER. IF THEY HAVEN'T DONE IT, IT GETS BOUNCED BACK AND FORTH, JUST LIKE IT DOES EVERYWHERE ELSE. BUT THE FAST TRACK PROCESS, WE CAN ACTUALLY GET SOMEONE MOVING DIRT AND PUTTING A BUILDING UP IN SIX WEEKS.
And Sheriff says the payoffs have been measured in the millions.
SHERIFF: IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS WE'VE BROUGHT IN 36 MILLION IN DIRECT CAPITAL INVESTMENT, 28-MILLION IN VALUE ADDED IMPACT, THAT MEANS THAT PEOPLE HAVE HIGH ENOUGH SALARIES THAT THEY CAN BUY HOMES AND BUY NEW CARS, AND BUY LITTLE EXTRAS. WE'VE HAD 75 COMPANIES LOCATE, EXPAND OR RETAIN IN OUR AREA, AND WE'VE CREATED OVER 475 NEW JOBS PAYING OVER 110-PERCENT OF THE ANNUAL WAGE.
Durango Chamber Director Jack Llewellyn says the summit is proving invaluable in developing local economic development strategies for the future.
LLEWELLYN: WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO IS GET CIVIC LEADERS THAT WILL ENGAGE IN STARTING TO THINK ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THEY CAN DO TO OFFSET THE OIL AND GAS, AND THAT DECLINE, WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO BRING IN NEW INDUSTRY, SO THIS IS JUST KIND OF A PLANTING OF THAT SEED. WE NEED TO ESTABLISH WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO FOR NEXT YEARS STRATEGIC PLAN AND THE THREE AND FIVE YEAR PLAN.
And the response, he says, needs to be a regional one.
LLEWELLYN: WE HAVE FARMINGTON AND AZTEC WHERE SO MANY OF THE EMPLOYEES ARE COMING UP SO IS TRANSPORTATION GOING TO BE AN ISSUE WHERE WE GOTTA GET THE PEOPLE FROM THOSE OTHER COMMUNITIES IN NORTHERN NEW MEXICO UP HERE.
The day also featured four break out sessions dealing with various topics, such as oil and gas development, housing, and growth companies, where participants could learn more about local initiatives.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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