Larimer approves regional economic-development agreement

FORT COLLINS — The Larimer County Board of Commissioners today unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding meant to promote collaboration in economic development between Larimer and Weld counties, as well as the cities and unincorporated areas within the counties. Weld County commissioners have yet to approve the MOU but will consider it Wednesday.

The agreement, while not requiring any expenditure, spells out a general framework for collaboration because “strength lies in unity,” according to the language of the agreement. Mentioned in the document was marketing the region as a whole and sharing of data between economic developers. It called for cooperation among the Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development office, Upstate Colorado Economic Development, and the cities, towns and unincorporated areas of the two counties.

Absent from the document was any mention of the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance, also known as OneNoCo, a private economic-development group that as recently as January 2019 received the endorsement of the three largest chambers of commerce in the region — Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland.

A call to businessman Scott Ehrlich, chairman of the NCEA, was not returned prior to publication.

However, Kelly Jones, economic-development director for the city of Loveland, said after the commissioners meeting that it is her understanding that NCEA is waiting for the regional framework of the MOU to take shape before deciding its involvement.

In any event, the NCEA does not yet have an executive director after the departure late last year of CEO Andy Montgomery.

Tuesday’s action by the Larimer commissioners was more about the relationship with Weld County than about politics between economic-development organizations.

“We want to bust the myth that Larimer and Weld counties don’t work well together,” said Jacob Castillo, who heads the Larimer County economic-development effort. “We have been working together for nearly two years as economic-development professionals. Northern Colorado is indeed one. The business community cares very little about county lines…,” he said.

The MOU language said that “The boards acknowledge that significant benefit can result from collaboration on those economic-development activities that promote the positive business attributes and amenities of Northern Colorado. The boards recognize that certain business, labor, transportation, educational, cultural and other assets exist within our two counties; so that when marketed jointly, a stronger case can be made to prospective employers and potential employees within certain targeted industry and occupational sectors.”

Rich Werner, president and CEO of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, told people in January at an economic development gathering in Windsor that work was underway on formalizing the collaboration that is occurring in the region. In his remarks Tuesday to the Larimer board, he cited a revolving loan fund that is managed by Upstate that has financial participation from Larimer County. He said 56 Larimer businesses recently received assistance from the fund.

“There’s no boundary to what we do,” he said, while acknowledging that the economic professionals in the region respect the territories represented by city or county economic developers and refer business prospects based upon what the prospect wants.

Larimer commissioners were in agreement with the language of the MOU in its original form. Weld commissioners had requested a change Monday to add “water” to a list of topics that could be addressed by regional economic collaboration and to strike “housing affordability” and “childcare” from that same list.

Larimer commissioners did not see the need to strike any of the listed topics, which also included talent development, regional transportation and “other economic development issues that impact our region’s competitiveness.” Commissioner Steve Johnson moved to approve the document in its original form with language to clarify that unincorporated areas of the counties are also included.

The document will be reviewed by the Weld board at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

 

FORT COLLINS — The Larimer County Board of Commissioners today unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding meant to promote collaboration in economic development between Larimer and Weld counties, as well as the cities and unincorporated areas within the counties. Weld County commissioners have yet to approve the MOU but will consider it Wednesday.

The agreement, while not requiring any expenditure, spells out a general framework for collaboration because “strength lies in unity,” according to the language of the agreement. Mentioned in the document was marketing the region as a whole and sharing of data between economic developers. It called for cooperation among the Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development office, Upstate Colorado Economic Development, and the cities, towns and unincorporated areas of the two counties.

Absent from the document was any mention of the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance, also known as OneNoCo, a private economic-development group that as recently as January 2019 received the endorsement of the three largest chambers of commerce in the region — Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland.

A call to businessman Scott Ehrlich, chairman of the NCEA, was not returned prior to publication.

However, Kelly Jones, economic-development director for the city of Loveland, said after the commissioners meeting that it is her understanding that NCEA is waiting for the regional framework of the MOU to take shape before deciding its involvement.

In any event, the NCEA does not yet have an executive director after the departure late last year of CEO Andy Montgomery.

Tuesday’s…