The town of Mancos has applied for a state grant that would pay for a long-term economic development plan.
At its meeting on March 14, the Town Board voted unanimously to allow Town Administrator Heather Alvarez to apply for a planning grant from the Rural Economic Development Initiative, a Department of Local Affairs program, which would pay for a consultant to help form a plan for business and economic growth. The grant would provide $45,000 in state funding, with $10,000 in matching funds to be paid by the town over two years. The application deadline is March 31.
Alvarez mentioned several economic development studies the town has conducted since 2012, including the Master Trails Plan, the Grand Avenue Visioning Study and a study by Downtown Colorado Inc. She said they have all given the town good ideas for how to foster new business, but the government hasn’t been able to turn those ideas into an achievable plan.
“We have a million studies that, to be perfectly honest, I don’t have time to go through ... and distill them down to three or four things that we can attain for economic development,” she said.
She said a specialist would be able to do that, and in a memo, she added that she felt the grant has become more urgent since the Western Excelsior plant fire, which exposed a need for diverse business and tax revenue options.
Matching funds for the grant have not been budgeted. If it received the grant, Mancos would have to pay them out of its revised 2018 budget and 2019 budget.
The trustees were overwhelmingly in favor of the grant application. Trustee Cindy Simpson pointed out it would be cheaper than hiring a new permanent staff member.
“I like the idea of doing it through a grant, because we’re not adding overhead to the town,” she said.
Alvarez added despite the Western Excelsior fire, Mancos is doing well. She mentioned a recent study from the Colorado Municipal League that listed Mancos as the town with the highest increase in 2017 sales tax revenue out of 33 municipalities statewide. Mancos received 25.5 percent more sales tax in 2017 than in 2016.
At the board’s next meeting, on March 28, the trustees plan to discuss funding for public art and a potential fiber installation project.