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Economic Development & Business Resources Available to Southeast Colorado

Unfortunately there isn’t enough awareness around the business resources that are available to local business owners and entrepreneurs around the valley. Every week La Junta Economic Development, Otero County Economic Development, Small Business Development Council (SBDC), La Junta Chamber of Commerce, and others will be highlighting different topics and resources available to businesses.

Otero Junior College is home to the SCORE Center which houses Otero County Economic Development, La Junta Economic Development, and SBDC. These three entities are responsible for job creation and retention for their respective jurisdictions. The SBDC serves six counties – Bent, Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, Prowers, & Baca. They are here to serve new and existing businesses by providing technical assistance. There are two economic development groups in Otero County that work together to help recruit, retain, and grow primary employers.

You might ask, “what is economic development?” Economic development focuses on bringing in new employers but not any type of employer – primary employers. These are employers who generate more than 60% of their revenue from outside of the valley. This distinction is important because our economy is always leaking. Primary employers bring in new dollars to the area and pay employees who can then go and spend that money at restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, etc. When you think about our large employers like Lewis Bolt, Debourgh, or Oliver, they are shipping their products across the country or in Oliver’s case around the world. The money that they generate doing this comes back and helps to supply our economy. Another important point to make about primary employers is that they also support ancillary businesses in the community.

We just saw a big win with the sale of the pickle plant but what is economic development doing to attract and grow more businesses? Economic development has other projects that it is continuing to work which would bring more jobs. We are also always trying to find other opportunities. One of the easiest ways for new businesses to connect with us is through the new website www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com. This site will be added to with more content over the next few months. We also attend conferences, use email marketing, and print advertising to interact with prospective businesses.

Economic development is also part of the state’s Sector Partnership strategy. We use this strategy to work with different industries like the manufacturing industry. By using this framework, we have industry, economic development, workforce, junior college, and K-12 education at the table to discuss the topics that are most important to their industry. We hope to launch a similar partnership in the healthcare industry soon.

Economic development covers a wide range of topics and acts as the connecting piece across different groups. Remember that economic development isn’t a one person job, it takes partnerships from industry, non-profits, workforce, K-12 education, higher education, government, and others to be successful.

If you have suggestions for this column or would like to learn more about economic development or other business topics please email ryan.stevens@ojc.edu.

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