By Shari Phiel
With a slightly smaller turnout than usual, the Berthoud Economic Resource Team met for the first time in nearly a month on Monday, Jan. 12 at the Berthoud Public Library.
The team kicked off the new year on a positive note when Library Director Sara Wright announced they have applied for a $48,000 grant through the International City Managers Association, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“It’s to be used for collaborative programs between the public library and the municipality,” said Wright.
If received, the grant monies would be used to create a technology center at the library that could be used by local businesses and individuals for video conferencing, continuing education, Web seminars (Webinars) or presentations. Wright noted the technology center could not be used to sell specific goods or services.
The library expects to have a response to the grant request by the end of February.
In other good news, Mark French with the Berthoud Historical Society is currently writing three historical walking tours which he hopes to have available by this spring. The three tours include one for the commercial district and two for old town Berthoud.
Next up on the meeting agenda were updates from the three of the group’s subcommittees. First was Dr. Jeff Bruno for the downtown business attraction group. The group has been conducting surveys of local business to get feedback.
Surveys completed to date have revealed six common discussion points for downtown businesses. Not surprisingly, one of the points is the Mountain Avenue project. Although pleased by the end results, many business owners were unhappy with the disruption the project caused and wanted better communication.
Other “talking points” or ideas from business owners included the need for: community leaders to get more involved with in-Town events; better business-to-business customer service; improvements to the Town’s Web site; and the creation of incentives for new and existing businesses.
One final point revealed by the surveys was the need to find creative solutions to issues. Several examples were provided of missed opportunities or opportunities rejected by Town staff including an offer for snow removal rejected because of liability concerns and facility charges for fundraising or free events.
Team member Mark Chaffee noted most business have been very cooperative in answering the surveys and many business owners were truly appreciative of being asked to contribute, “probably some of them for the first time ever,” Chaffee noted.
Next up were updates from the shovel-ready work group, which has been taking an inventory of various properties in growth area management plan and categorizing them into one of three tiers in terms of opportunities for primary employment.
Tier one properties are those already in process and closest to being shovel ready. Two such properties have been identified; the first being the Jackson property north on Second Street near the Northern Colorado Water Conservation District building, and the Ludlow property, which is currently in the entitlement process.
BERT team member Jim Birdsall defined tier two properties as “the ones we thought had potential but were further away from either infrastructure or approvals and would require more work.” Properties identified in this tier include anything in the Interstate 25 sub-area and properties in the Berthoud industrial park, the Wilson Ranch area and others. Tier three properties are “what we kind of thought of as a big dream/big idea,” noted Birdsall. This would include areas west of I-25 north of Highway 56.
Finishing the group updates was Lisa Underhill, administrative assistant for Berthoud with marketing updates for the business retention group. Plans are underway for the Mountain Avenue ceremony scheduled for May 2. This is the same day as the Bob Turner Classic Run/Walk event. The two events will be tied together for a longer day of celebration.
Organizers will be looking for businesses to sponsor or host an event that day. Underhill will be distributing a “save-the-date” flyer which includes suggestions and ideas for events although other suggestions are always welcome. For more information or to sign-up contact Lisa Underhill at (970) 532-2643 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next BERT meeting will be on Jan. 26 in the Town Hall boardroom at 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested in Berthoud’s economic future is encouraged to attend.