Chris Burkett, economic development specialist for Montezuma County, came to town last week and met with Town Administrator Andrea Phillips, Chamber Board of Directors President Rena Wilson; and me, Chamber of Commerce administrator.
Burkett is a longtime resident of Montezuma County and has extensive background in grant writing. He was the Parks and Recreation Director for Cortez and was instrumental in bringing the Recreation Center to Cortez. Most recently, he has worked as director of grants and special projects for the City of Cortez. Through his broad experience working in Cortez on various community projects, he has the knowledge and connections needed to help local business. As an employee for Region 9 and representing Montezuma County Economic Development Association (MCEDA), his services to local business are free.
During our meeting, he explained that he will work with businesses throughout Montezuma County. He said that he will be in Mancos on the first and third Wednesdays in the afternoon. He will be at Town Hall but plans to get out and about with various businesses in the Mancos Valley.
"My focus will be on existing businesses," he said. He said wants to help local businesses enhance or improve their business activity and even expand their efforts. He explained that because the Mancos Valley is identified as an Enterprise Zone, meaning that we live in a low-income region, businesses are entitled to receive various types of financial aid. These include tax benefits, special financing and other incentives designed to encourage local businesses. Burkett is here to help our local businesses to identify resources and incentives as well as low-interest loans or grants that could infuse financial energy into their business activities.
Acknowledging that there might be hurdles for small businesses, he said he plans to assist business owners with negotiating those policies or procedures that interfere with efficient business practice.
Burkett will be at the Town Board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. if you want to learn more.
According to Phillips, the Town Board wants to focus on economic development. "Chris Burkett will be a valuable resource to our community," she said. If you would like to have Burkett visit with you when he is in town, you can call the Town of Mancos at 970-533-7725.
Wilson also reinforced that the Chamber of Commerce is focused on economic development for the Mancos Valley. She said that the Chamber will again sponsor classes for local business owners in 2014.