County renews business center support
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County commissioners agreed Monday to another year of funding support for the nonprofit Roaring Fork Business Resource Center.
But at least one commissioner would like to wean the organization from ongoing funding, as the county looks to refine its role in local economic development efforts.
“My original understanding was that we would help you for three years to get started,” Commissioner Mike Samson said. “It looks like you’re to the point where you’re a big success. I’m wondering why we should continue to do this.”
Samson ultimately joined the other members of the Garfield Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), which unanimously agreed to allocate $25,000 to the RFBRC for this year.
It’s the fourth straight year the county has supported the organization at that funding level since its inception in 2009.
The RFBRC helps steer both new and existing local businesses to a variety of resources that can help them succeed. A big part of the program involves the use of business mentors to help newer business owners learn the ropes.
In addition to local government support, the organization also relies on private business sponsorships, which has grown to about $137,000.
RFBRC Executive Director Randi Lowenthal said the original support from local governments served as matching support for a three-year state grant.
“We are looking at ongoing support from Garfield County, and hope to convince you that what we do is worth your support,” Lowenthal said.
The county has been working with a marketing consultant to help define a role for county government in economic development efforts.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said it’s important for the county to support the efforts of outside organizations, at least initially.
“As a government, we do not do that very well ourselves,” he said. “Right now, economic development and jobs are important. I feel the Roaring Fork Business Resource Center is an important piece of that.”
Commissioners also heard several other funding requests at their Monday meeting. Other organizations to receive funding include:
• The Glenwood Springs Summer of Music, $15,000 to put on the upcoming summer concert series in Two Rivers Park. The Wednesday night series runs from late June until early August. It is organized by a special committee of the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts. Funding also comes from the city of Glenwood Springs and several private sponsors.
• Silt Water Conservation District, $25,000 to help with a feasibility study for a proposed micro-hydroelectric plant on Silt Mesa.
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