Last August, Region 10 announced the receipt of $245,000 in EDA grant funds for a strategic analysis designed to build the economic resiliency and sustainability of Delta and Gunnison counties following closure of the Oxbow and Elk Creek coal mines.

Now, Region 10 is pleased to announce that Better City of Ogden, Utah has been hired to provide the in-depth, data-driven analysis that will prioritize actions aimed at creating a more diversified, robust economy in Delta County.

“The work has begun,” Region 10 Executive Director Michelle Haynes said. “The contractor is gathering data, and we have identified stakeholders from each community.”

The process will be as open and inclusive as possible, she said, and public meetings will be scheduled in the near future to keep the community updated as to progress and to allow public comment.

“To me, this is not just a strategic analysis. This is a chance to take the reins and determine our economic future.”
~ Justin Clifton, City of Delta

Better City’s analysis could not come at a more opportune time, Delta City Manager Justin Clifton said. The City of Delta has contributed a significant portion of the matching funds for the implementation plan.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that we have lacked a coherent vision for economic development in Delta County,” Clifton said.  “I see this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a unified vision and invest in making it a reality.  The consequence of getting it wrong or shrugging it off is solidifying a future that looks just like our past.  The opportunity to give it our all and get it right could be making our community virtually anything that we can envision.

“To me, this is not just a strategic analysis,” he said. “This is a chance to take the reins and determine our economic future.”

In Gunnison, where a “visioning” process is also beginning, the community is excited to work with a consultant that has such a strong record of producing tangible results and success. The information gained through the analysis will provide direction as the community moves forward with a vision of its chosen future, Gunnison County Community Development Director Russ Forrest said.

“We are talking about the value of having a common vision, about where we want to be in the future in Gunnison County, and how we can improve economic prosperity,” Forrest said.

“Delta County Economic Development is excited to be working with Better Cities on this important project,” said Trish Thibodo, executive director of Delta County Economic Development (DCED), which is participating in the study.  “As the Project Steering Committee for Delta County, we will work closely with Better Cities and the entire county throughout the process.  We see this as a tremendous opportunity to define the future economic direction and growth of our county, and we look forward to working with the consultant to create a vision for our future with a feasible action plan to set a new economic direction for our county.”

“I am excited that this plan may identify more clearly some of the magnificent reasons to live here, and get us focused on the quality of life we have here in Western Colorado,” said Thomas Huerkamp, who has been a Delta County business owner for more than 43 years and who presently serves as Vice Chair of Delta County Economic Development (DCED), which is participating in the study.

Better City was founded by former Ogden, Utah Mayor Matthew Godfrey in 2012, after a 12-year term in which he transformed the former Railroad town into a national destination for high-adventure outdoor recreation. As he was ending his tenure as Mayor, Mr. Godfrey was approached by multiple communities requesting assistance with their economic development initiatives.  Better City was founded in 2011 to assist these communities in developing actionable plans to diversify their economy, attract private investment, and create jobs.  Since its foundation, Better City’s client base has grown to include communities in eight states across the country.