Better City, the consulting firm tasked with identifying economic development solutions for Delta and Gunnison Counties, hosted several open houses in the communities in late April to unveil their initial thoughts.

After working closely with the State Demographers Office, Better Cities compiled and analyzed economic indicators about potential opportunities for growth. Their analysis fed into proposals focused on leveraging local assets, building upon the communities’ natural strengths, and developing vision for a variety of potential economic development projects. Matthew Godfrey of Better City encourages communities to “think big” when it comes to envisioning future prosperity.

Delta County – Agriculture and Manufacturing

IMG_0752Based on its rich agriculture base, Delta County is well positioned to leverage the existing boom in organic food markets. Better City proposed the creation of an “Organic Industry National Center of Excellence” as a way to engage in this market. According to Better City’s research, Delta County is the hub of organic agriculture in Colorado, and ranks 44th nationwide. The proposed project would seek to create a strategic effort that combines marketing, infrastructure, and distribution. In addition, downtown revitalization – which will support new agritourist activity – was also identified as a complementary piece to this equation.

Delta County is also well positioned for the manufacturing industry as well. Manufacturing jobs increased 19% in Delta County between 2010 and 2014. This growth is strong in comparison to the state as a whole which experienced a 10% increase. To support this particular unique niche, Better City recommended the creation of an innovation center “focusing on assisting entrepreneurs to rapidly prototype initial concepts in manufactured goods”. With the proper technical support, new startups could be created, their products accelerated to the regional and national markets, and leveraged to create new jobs for the community.

Gunnison County – High Altitude Sports and Tech Innovation

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Matthew Godfrey of Better City discusses Better City’s efforts during an open house in Orchard City Town Hall.

With its high altitude setting, Gunnison could become the altitude training center of the country. The marketplace for endurance sports presents a unique niche market that Gunnison could easily leverage based on its existing assets. To make Gunnison the “Endurance Sports National Center of Excellence”, strategic investments should be geared toward business recruitment, well-marketed competitions, and training seminars. The goal is to attract high altitude sports companies and enthusiasts to visit Gunnison County, witness the quality of life, and potentially establish themselves in the community.

In addition to high altitude sports, Gunnison County – with its proximity to higher education resources – is well positioned to focus on technological innovation. This entity would connect its local workforce – one of the best educated in the state – to training, expertise, and equipment to “take concepts to prototype to market”.

Public Feedback

The proposed projects were designed to solicit feedback from the stakeholder communities. What are your thoughts on these ideas? Residents of Delta and Gunnison Counties are strongly encouraged to provide feedback on these ideas. If interested, you can provide comments and thoughts in the form below. Region 10 will be certain to forward your thoughts on to the proper contacts based on your community of interest.

If you are interested on the visuals presented at the event, please click on the links below.

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gunnison endurance sports

Gunnison innovation

Delta prototpying

Delta organic