The Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation is back in the headlines.
A new executive director, Rich Lindblad, has been selected and is at work, and the focus of the organization (if one admits it has ever had a credible focus since its creation) might be sharpening.
We hope this is the case, and we hope that the community development corporation model will round into shape.
The CDC has had a checkered, short history. The CDC supplanted the Archuleta Economic Development Association, an organization whose triumphs were few, and one which hung on for far too many years, doing far too little.
When the CDC was created, poor management hampered its progress. The first executive director of the organization had a particular, some would say peculiar, take on the subject of economic development, and centered his attention on the creation of events — a dog owners’ convention and a songwriter’s symposium. People can argue the merits of either event, but if such events are to be created, tourism-related organizations in the area — the Chamber, the Town Tourism Committee and a variety of non-profits —are able to do this kind of work.
To us, economic development involves basic things: 1) Assistance in the creation of local businesses and the nurturing of existing local businesses; and, 2) Facilitating the relocation of existing businesses to Archuleta County.
At his first board meeting, Lindblad tossed around the usual generalities: that a CDC “should improve the quality of life of the people it serves,” and “A CDC must make residents believe that they have an investment in the community.”
All well and good, and expansive enough to be meaningless.
When it got down to brass tacks, however, Lindbald discussed improvement of the daycare situation in Pagosa Country — a valid way to nurture local businesses through assistance to workers and potential workers who now face the burden of childcare costs — often costs that equal or exceed wages.
The idea the CDC could aid in the creation of local, small “green” businesses holds promise, as does a ”Business Incubator” notion, long in the works.
Mention was made of the imminent relocation of an aviation business to Stevens Field – a business that could bring 10 to 15 jobs and that has potential for expansion in the future.
New board member Mark Weiler noted the chance that a large, multiuse, indoor riding arena could be built on county land on U.S. 84, supported with private financing. A facility would surely benefit and bolster local operations such as Parelli and could also attract events and organizations to the area that benefit the local economy.
The more ideas, the more projects, the better.
The one thing we look for as the new regime takes hold is how the CDC will be financed.
The CDC can raise funds a variety of ways — most notably via grants and private investment. These options must be exercised. To date, most of the organization’s funding has come from local government, with the town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County each contributing big money.
This has to stop. The CDC must become self-supporting.
In short order.
With Archuleta County, in particular, sure to face revenue reductions next year, the money is not there. Available revenues must be spent on infrastructure and services, themselves stimulants of economic growth — on a community to which business owners want to move, in which businesses can be created and flourish due to a steady stream of customers drawn by the allure of the place.
We hope Lindblad and the board wean the CDC from local government money as soon as possible. If they can’t, the organization should not exist. If they do, we wish them luck in any legitimate economic development endeavor. Karl Isberg