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EDP hires specialist

Steamboat woman named top executive

Collin Smith

Craig — Scott Cook, Cook Chevrolet owner, would like to get education on certain things, such as reducing employee health insurance premiums and property tax dues. — Scott Cook, Cook Chevrolet owner, would like to get education on certain things, such as reducing employee health insurance premiums and property tax dues.

— Scott Cook, Cook Chevrolet owner, would like to get education on certain things, such as reducing employee health insurance premiums and property tax dues.

Darcy Trask could help him with that.

This is part of the reason Cook, also Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership board president, and the rest of the EDP board asked her to accept a position as EDP specialist.

It is undetermined when Trask will officially begin, but Cook hopes she can start before the next EDP board meeting Feb. 20, possibly in the next two weeks.

“I think her strongest suit is the ability to help already growing businesses expand, and other businesses to grow,” Cook said. “If we (the business community) could keep some costs down, then we could get more people in here and expand the economy that way.”

Trask, of Steamboat Springs, agreed to take the job, EDP Interim Director Scott Ford said, but she has not signed a formal agreement.

She was unavailable for comment Monday.

The specialist position replaces EDP’s former director position but will retain many of the same functions. The notable exception is the specialist will follow the board’s agenda instead of setting its own, Ford said.

The EDP board’s initial choice for the position, Kevin Ventrudo, also of Steamboat Springs, told board members that family considerations could keep him from accepting the position.

Ventrudo might move out of the area after his oldest child graduates from high school this year, preventing him from being with EDP very long, Cook said.

Although Ventrudo will not be able to take the position, Moffat County residents should not look at Trask as a runner-up, Ford said.

“Heaven’s sake, no, this is not a second choice,” Ford said. “To a certain degree, it was an absolute coin toss between Kevin and Darcy.”

The scales tipped to Ventrudo because of his experience with startup businesses, but Trask’s background in community development makes up a lot of that difference, Ford said.

“For the implementation of the strategy of where we’re at, she’ll come up to speed faster than Kevin would,” Ford added. “She’s from here. She speaks the language.”

Trask has lived in the Yampa Valley for about 20 years, and has worked with Ford and EDP board member Audrey Danner on numerous community projects in Steamboat Springs, Ford said.

She is a past member of the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Commission and was appointed to the State of Colorado Women’s Economic Development Commission.

Ford will stay on for another two months most likely, in a reduced role, to make sure Trask is up to speed with EDP projects, he said.

EDP’s first steps will focus on improving the local business community more than attracting outside conglomerates, Ford said.

By educating local business owners – and would-be business owners – about competent business practices and seizing opportunities, EDP hopes to expand local markets to become more viable and sustainable.

Trask’s community development experience can spearhead a campaign like that, Ford said.

Developing a community-wide, commercial knowledge base benefits locals as well as out-of-towners thinking about relocation, Ford added.

EDP’s proposed consumer preference study – which examines what products local shoppers buy in Craig compared to out of town – can be the first example of that knowledge. Combined with examples of regional economic benefits, such as comparatively lower taxes, that knowledge can be used to attract other businesses.

“Community development and economic development strongly overlap at this grassroots level,” Ford said.

“A lot of businesses hiccup over the same issue. That is, learning business skills. The tuition can be really expensive to learn in terms of lost customers and opportunities. Darcy is further into that learning curve because of her community development experience.

“I think it was a great choice.”

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com


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