DEVELOPMENT PROS DELIVER FOR MONTROSE

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—From pizzas to daily newspapers, offering home delivery has become a way of life for many businesses—raising consumer expectations and the highlighting the importance of “delivering” a quality product to the market you serve.

At the top of the local “delivery” scale are businesses like Black Canyon Equipment Rentals (2372 East Main), where customers can take delivery of items weighing as much as 30,000 pounds.

“If a company calls us looking for a piece of equipment, we can deliver anything from a skid steer, bobcat or minx, to fork lifts, scissor lifts or compressors,” clerk Jack Schmidt said.

Even new citizens are “delivered” to the area—Montrose Memorial Hospital has welcomed 377 new babies so far in 2012, compared to 456 in 2011 and 469 in 2010.

With local businesses also delivering meals, snacks, water, oxygen and professional services such as pet grooming to area consumers on a daily basis, it’s probably no surprise that the region’s economic development pros consider it their mission to “deliver” for their constituents as well.

“Montrose is a city that is open and ready for business,” said Montrose Association of Commerce & Tourism (Montrose Act) Executive Director Jenni Sopsic. “We have an entrepreneurial spirit with a can-do attitude. Many of us love Montrose for the same reasons–you can live, work and play here.

“And Montrose ACT helps support and deliver all of the reasons we love Montrose.”

Sopsic cited the following accomplishments for 2012:

“Chamber membership is up 11 percent, whereas, on the average, a chamber of our size is down nine percent in membership. Year-to-date sales tax collections are up 1.8 percent, year-to-date hotel tax collections are up 1.4 percent, year-to-date restaurant tax collections are up 10.1 percent, and combined year-to-date lodging and restaurant are up 13.5 percent to budget.

“We partnered with the city to secure Montrose as the Stage 2 Start for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, and planned and executed the most successful business expo in our history, based on attendance and exhibitor feedback,” she added.

Montrose ACT’s governmental affairs council completed a survey which is helping create a platform for the organization’s governmental affairs strategy, she said, noting that 2012 is also on track to set a new record for the number of Adventure Guides (the official visitor guide of Montrose) requests received.

Paul Gray, outgoing chair of the Region10 League for Economic Assistance & Planning, points out that the 40-year-old non-profit organization has also delivered numerous benefits to Montrose and the surrounding, six-county (Delta, Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison, Hinsdale, San Miguel) area.

“Region 10 benefits our six-county region in several ways,” Gray said. “By leveraging a relatively modest investment from our member local governments, Region 10 has secured significant funding from federal and state sources to benefit the citizens of the region through a variety of programs and services. Last year, Region 10’s services provided a 35.2 to 1 return on that local investment.

“Our current programs range from support to senior citizens, to providing capital to small businesses, to securing state funding for highway projects, to economic development, transportation and transit planning, to helping to secure state tax credits for businesses and individuals,” Gray said.

There are few restrictions on what programs and services Region 10 can offer, and with the very low cost structure of a non-profit organization, Region 10 has almost unlimited potential to effectively manage new programs and services to support the region, he added. In addition to financial support from local governments, Region 10 has access to private donations and grants as well.

“Region 10 provides the only forum where all local governments within the six counties can meet to discuss common issues and find collaborative solutions,” Gray said.

Although chronologically much younger, the Montrose Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has also delivered for Montrose, according to DDA Director Scott Shin, who notes that the DDA has been able to generate significant interest in the downtown district and assist in generating new investment from both the public and private sectors.

“We have great relationships with the City, MACT, MEDC, Region 10, Community Foundation, and other community organizations,” Shine said. “These relationships help us leverage resources above and beyond our own and direct those to downtown.”

Downtown business and property owners make up the DDA’s board, keeping the focus on the needs and opportunities of the Downtown district.

“One of the more frequent information requests I get is about lease rates in the district,” Shine said. We have compiled a list of rates and are able to provide that market information to property owners so that they have a good sense of where rates are.”

 

The DDA works to connect new businesses with available space, and assists with various stages of the business opening, he said, including navigation of City and County regulatory processes.

The organization also tracks business and investment activity within the district, and engages in strategic marketing of merchants and events throughout the year. The DDA worked with the City of Montrose to install and launch a free WIFI network Downtown, has installed signage on major thoroughfares guiding visitors to the Downtown District, and held a Downtown cleanup day last Spring, Shine said.

Also charged with delivering jobs, opportunities and economic development in Montrose is the venerable Montrose Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

After nearly a decade on the job, Sandy Head of MEDC believes that longstanding relationships and a reputation for integrity have helped MEDC continue to deliver what its membership expects, despite statewide economic woes.

“MEDC has been around for 55 years,” Head said. “We have a strong relationship with the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), and we have members who have been with us for more than 40 years. And of course, we have private investors.”

MEDC has recently been working with Delta County Economic Development to promote traditional industries such as farming and ranching, Head noted.

“We are trying to work in partnership with Delta,” she said. “We want to focus on our core values, and core amenities. This area was founded by mining, and later by farming and ranching. Maintaining a strong agricultural community is a core value, because they help us preserve our green spaces—one of the reasons that people want to live here.”

Expanded broadband capabilities are also a focus of the partnership with DCED, Head said.

“MEDC is more diverse these days,” she said. “We work with big entities, but we also work with individuals. (Former board president) Bruce Panter called us, ‘a clearinghouse of opportunities,’ and I think that really says it well. We are not looking only at big businesses; we try to seize opportunities. Our local sawmill is now under new ownership, and securing a wood supply—we were able to be a player in that. We are still working with airplanes. But we have also helped people find jobs.

“We are flexible, and we are networking,” Head said. “And we are able to go where government can’t.”