By Chris Mannara
The Pagosa Springs Town Council will serve as the fiscal sponsor for the Pagosa Innovation Center (PIC) following a presentation by one of its co-founders at a regular meeting on Aug. 4.
The PIC is seeking funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in order to renovate the old Powerhouse building, according to Town Manager Andrea Phillips.
The Powerhouse building will be renovated to establish co-working space locally as well as to house different startup organizations, among other things, Phillips described.
Phillips noted that Michael Whiting and his partners were planning on applying for a U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant.
“The project needs to be related to resiliency and response to the coronavirus pandemic, and I think there is quite an interesting approach with this innovation center,” Phillips said. “They are seeking $2 million in federal funding. The total cost of the project is $2.5 million.”
During the meeting on Aug. 4, Whiting explained that the PIC is dedicated to multiple things regarding economic development in the community.
“The innovation center downtown is really three components. It’s conference, training, and meeting and maker space,” Whiting said. “The core purposes are to generate a culture of entrepreneurship in Archuleta County, a culture of business collaboration and competition as they say and also the exchange of knowledge between businesses.”
The project was described by Whiting as an “infrastructure project” and designed to take advantage of the Powerhouse building’s proximity to Town Park.
Whiting noted that he is excited to bring distinguished speakers to the building once the project is finished.
“Once the dust settles, we can start looking at small corporate retreats and conferences as a way to aggregate out of town businesses here so that we can entice them to relocate,” Whiting said.
Whiting added later that the PIC will not apply for the grant until the organization is “pretty sure we’ve got a solid application.”
It is very competitive for grant funding, Whiting explained, adding that there is $150 million in requests and only $90 million in funding available.
“We would know really rapidly because this is emergency recovery money. Most of the process has been compressed so the dollars can be deployed,” Whiting said.
The motion for town council to serve as the fiscal sponsor for the PIC’s pending grant application to the EDA was approved unanimously.