Read Part One
First on the task list for Rich Lindblad when he took over as Executive Director of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDC) in August of 2011, was a proposed a strategic plan which was unanimously approved by the Board then headed by Ross Aragon.
The 4-point Plan was as follows:
- Retain, recruit and grow local businesses
- Increase capital formation
- Create and market our local Pagosa Springs brand
- Educate and train our workforce.
Some of Lindblad’s accomplishments in pursuit of these objectives are as follows:
- Counseling 97 clients in Archuleta County resulting in helping to create 54.5 jobs, and retain another 52.5 jobs, and two new businesses starts. (Lindblad’s results in jobs created/retained achieved represented 89% of the goal for the entire Southwest SBDC region. In proportion to the population, Archuleta had the most jobs created/retained of any county in the whole state)!
- Lindblad partnered with Region 9 and local banks to help our local businesses get capital for business expansion.
- Launched the “Positive on Pagosa” brand.
- In early 2012, Lindblad, in an effort to make the PSCDC Board more effective, asked the entire Board to resign. The intent was to reformulate the Board to make them more effective. While it didn’t win him any goodwill, he said that, as a result, we now have a Board of Directors that he’s really proud of and, “I’ve never worked with a Board with so much energy and focus. For the first time, we have a community focus that truly represents the citizens of Pagosa Springs. We are a citizen’s group—not a government entity.”
- Lindblad joined Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) on behalf of the PSCDC which ultimately resulted in DCI coming to Pagosa Springs to an assessment of our downtown. DCI recommended an action plan which is now being actively worked on, called “Imagine Downtown.”
- Lindblad proposed using Crowdfunding to help fund community projects
- Worked with Ken Vickerstaff to launch an effort to acquire the old City Market downtown.
Lindblad continued, “We need to steer clear of businesses that provide sub-standard wages. We control our own destiny. We, as a community need to embrace the concept of “vision” to define what we want our community to look like. If we don’t, we will continue to spiral around in circles.” Lindblad then recommended that the PSCDC own the creation of the community vision and to invite community participation in the visioning process. He went on to say that “the day you arrive in this community, your opinion counts and your participation is important.”
Lindblad received the first ever standing ovation from the crowd and from the Board as he finished.
Eason then took the floor to address where the PSCDC goes from here. “As you are likely well aware, the PSCDC’s operating expenses have not been funded by either the Town or the County for 2013. However, we do NOT consider this a reflection on our significant accomplishments, which you’ve just heard about from Rich, or the great plans we have for the community going forward.
"Even without operational funding for 2013, I want to assure everyone that the PSCDC will continue our work in economic and community development and continue to do good work for our community! The PSCDC knows that our community needs economic development more than most and we are totally committed and passionate about continuing our work.
"It will, however, take some adjustments, re-thinking, creativity and a lot of work from our volunteer Board of Directors. But our Board is made up of entrepreneurs that thrive and succeed with new challenges and are creative problem-solvers, so we look forward to a bright and successful future."
Our 2013 plans include:
To reduce operational cash flow requirements, the PSCDC will do the following:
- Discontinue the Executive Director position. Rich’s contract expired on December 31st and won’t be renewed for 2013.
- The Administrative Assistant’s hours will be cut back.
- We will vacate the PSCDC offices at Town Country Plaza as of February 1. The Chamber is also closing the uptown Visitor’s Center that currently shares the space with the PSCDC. The PSCDC will become for a time a “virtual” organization, utilizing public meeting spaces and providing a presence by phone, email, web site and by hosting many public forums.
The PSCDC will continue to:
- Qualify as an “Enhanced Enterprise Zone Project” for Archuleta County. Our status was renewed for 2013 by Region 9 since Archuleta County is so economically distressed and the PSCDC is viewed as an organization addressing this challenge. Colorado’s Enterprise Zone (EZ) program provides state income tax credits and other incentives including capital investment tax credits, job tax credits, research and development tax credits, and other credits and incentives for private enterprise to expand or for new businesses to locate within our area.
- Lead "Imagine Downtown," in partnership with the Chamber and members of the community, leveraging Downtown Colorado, Inc.’s (DCI) and the Colorado Department of Local Affair’s (DOLA) expertise and resources in downtown revitalization and community development.
- Build out Crowdfunding capability for civic projects—including Imagine Downtown projects—that leverage the PSCDC’s EZ status. When the SEC defines the rules for equity investing, we will also begin to use Crowdfunding to provide equity capital our local small businesses.
- Work to acquire and redevelop the downtown City Market plaza for the community and develop a rollout plan. We have a grant from the SW Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to help us create a robust business plan.
- Foster and recruit a full team of working Board members with weekly Board work sessions to plan and coordinate our work. Without an Executive Director, the Board will have to share the workload.
- Expand the PSCDC Website to be more interactive, provide more business news, economic indicators and resources for our business community.
- Host “Business Open Mic Night" with the Chamber. This is an open coaching and peer networking session for our local businesses.
- Host monthly Public PSCDC meetings like this one, with educational topics related to economic development, and host an open community dialog—one of the key DCI recommendations.
- Expand our membership base as our value proposition grows.
The PSCDC will start to:
- Look for new ways to provide business advisory services for our local businesses since Rich Lindblad is no longer Executive Director of the PSCDC. We believe this is at the heart of our value to the community and was responsible for our success with job creation and retention last year.
- Diversify our funding sources and reduce our dependency on any one source. It is unconscionable that, as of June 2012 when the new Board started, no attempt had previously been made to reduce the PSCDC’s dependency on local government funding.
- Look for grants, donations and/or low cost loans for City Market Acquisition and Redevelopment and other projects. Request project-specific funding from Town and County for projects they agree are important.
- Form an Advisory Council to provide depth of skills and knowledge and help with access to connections, funding sources and to provide guidance and expertise to the Board as we navigate the challenges ahead.
- Use economic indicators and other metrics to track the results of our good work.
- Forge relationships with the Chamber, PAWSD, PLPOA, La Plata County Economic Development Alliance, the SBDC, Region 9, DOLA, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), and other organizations to support economic and community development in Archuleta County.
How does the PSCDC intend to accomplish such broad and large goals through the use of volunteers only – many of whom own businesses or have other occupations?
Read Part Three...