By Sandy Barnes
Economic development coordinator Stephanie Salazar said that key properties have been targeted for marketing during her report to the Town Board at the Tuesday, Oct. 27, meeting. The Ludlow property, Prairie Star, the former Champion home site and Larry Bebo’s property are included in those identified as close to shovel ready, which will get top priority for marketing activity, Salazar said. Berthoud Economic Resource Team BERT) members who recently attended a site selector conference in Denver have begun making contacts, she added. “The enthusiasm is important as this time,” Salazar said.
Salazar said that while working with BERT since her rehiring in September, a goal of increasing Town sales revenues by 20 percent in the coming year has been set by the business retention team. As part of the effort to assist businesses in Berthoud, Salazar said it is essential to examine the local business landscape in terms of revenues, employees, wages and growth trends. Workshops, events, public recognition and market analysis are among tools and resources in the business retention effort, she added.
While responding to a question from Trustee Glen Buckingham, Salazar said that the business retention team had not yet identified businesses at risk.
In her update about economic development activities, Salazar also reported that a budget for BERT has been developed, which ranges from $10,000 to $20,000. She also said that she has a first draft of a Web site to be used for marketing and a list of BERT deliverables previously presented to the Town is in the process of revision.
Among upcoming BERT activities is a November event featuring Don Marostica, state director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Salazar said.
Because of the Town’s lean budget reserves, the decision to rehire Salazar came with some controversy among trustees. While the majority of the board supported her rehiring, Mayor Pro Tem David Gregg and Trustee Dick Shepard voted against it out of budget concerns. In early September, the Town Board approved a four-month contract with Salazar, who is receiving $6,500 a month until the end of the year. Salazar previously worked for three months with BERT after being hired in fall 2008 on an interim basis.
Some Berthoud residents also have objected to Salazar’s hiring and to the membership of BERT. At the beginning of the Oct. 27 meeting, resident Dorian Ryan said that she would like to see more Berthoud residents participating in BERT, rather than business owners and developers, many of which do not reside in the town.
Trustee John Bauer took issue with Ryan’s remarks, saying that most of the Town’s general fund is generated through sales tax paid by business owners. “Citizens are welcome to join the BERT committee,” he added. “It’s strongly encouraged.”
Trustee Jeff Hindman also said that he thought Ryan’s criticism was “unfounded” and encouraged her to attend a BERT meeting.
“The public is invited to all these meetings,” said Buckingham.