LAEC, city negotiating on economic development

LONGMONT — Representatives are negotiating terms of a contract that lays out how the Longmont Area Economic Council might take over the city of Longmont’s economic development efforts, according to assistant city manager Shawn Lewis.

Longmont city council members in January voted to explore the concept of consolidating all city economic development efforts with the Longmont Area Economic Council. The group is a public-private partnership funded by the city and area companies. It has representatives from private companies on its board.

“The contract will entail LAEC assuming the city’s economic development programs and services in addition to the scope of work they have now,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail response on Feb. 11 to a request for information on the merge.

Lewis did not provide details of what the contract includes or when it might be signed.

City of Longmont funding will make up 47 percent of the Longmont Area Economic Council’s budget in 2014, Lewis has said in the past. That works out to $180,000 for 2014 along with an additional $20,000 for web development. The remainder of LAEC’s budget in the past has come from private companies that are members of the organization.

The consolidation plan would come with prerequisites, Lewis has said. City officials want to have representation on the Longmont Area Economic Council’s board — possibly two seats, Lewis said. They also want to keep programs going that currently are administered through the city’s economic development department, such as the Longmont Economic Gardening Initiative.

The ultimate goal of consolidation efforts is to make Longmont a “high-performing economic development engine for the state” that’s able to compete for national companies that are looking to relocate, Lewis said.
Some city staff involved in city economic development efforts could lose their jobs as a result of the consolidation effort, city manager Harold Dominguez said in January.

The city’s economic development department is headed by Brad Power. Doug Bene is in charge of the Longmont Economic Gardening Initiative. Both Power and Bene declined to comment.

“There would be excess capacity,” Dominguez said at a Longmont city council meeting. “If we had excess capacity, we would be overstaffed, and we would have to make some adjustments on that.”

Lewis has said that it’s too early to tell how staffing at the city might be affected by the consolidation plans.

Wendi Nafizger, interim president of LAEC, referred staffing questions to Andy Bade, chairman of the group’s board. Bade has said that the group’s search for a new leader is on hold while LAEC members work with the city on consolidation.

City council members voted in January to direct staff to look at how to consolidate economic development efforts in the Longmont Area Economic Council after hearing highlights of a $79,400 study that recommended all economic development efforts in Longmont be consolidated with the LAEC or with the city.

Former LAEC president John Cody left in August to be director of economic development for the city of Thornton. Nafziger has not applied for the president job. The LAEC chose three finalists from a national search before putting the hiring process on hold, Bade said.

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