Educational forums in planning stages |

Educational forums in planning stages

Susan Cunningham

A forum to help residents learn how to start a new business or develop a piece of land could take place in Oak Creek and Yampa within the next few months.

The idea for the forum is an off-shoot of the South Routt Community Economic Assessment, a process that began in the summer and has continued through the year. Through the assessment, economic conditions and means of economic development in the area were examined.

Routt County commissioners said they would support the forums and gave the go-ahead to county planning staff to spend some of their work time organizing them.

But, they said that anything pursued as a result of the forums should be led by economic development councils.

“Let’s try to have the community drive this thing and the people, and not the government,” Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said.

Routt County Planner John Eastman, who discussed the forums with the commissioners, did so not as a planner but as a resident of South Routt County.

Eastman is heading a committee working on land-use code, which came up with the ideas for the educational forums last fall. The committee is one of six formed as a result of the assessment.

Each committee tackles goals such as developing a shared vision and sense of community for South Routt, building a good foundation for economic development, developing consistency in land-use regulations and development policies, supporting viable agricultural operations, finding funding for staff support for the South Routt Economic Development Council and creating partnerships with the school district, community and businesses.

The forums would be open to the public and would have a discussion-oriented format. Officials from the county Planning Department, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Routt County Environmental Health and local government could be present to answer questions residents have, Eastman said.

One forum likely would take place in Oak Creek and another in Yampa, with the possibility of expanding to Hayden, Eastman said. Crucial to whether the forums take place is whether the towns are interested in participating.

A logical result of the forums could be an information sheet that Eastman envisions would be titled, “So you want to start a business?” The sheet could detail what steps people should take and who they should contact if they’re interested in such an endeavor.

The South Routt Community Economic Assessment was part of the Colorado Community Assessment Program, an economic study sponsored by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The next follow-up meeting for the assessment likely will take place in February.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail

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