By Jamie Folsom
What is the regional economic outlook for 2009? Pretty bright according to the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation. Investor Development Director Eric Berglund, and Business Retention and Expansion Director Stacy Johnson gave a presentation outlining the purpose and accomplishments of the NCEDC at the Thursday, Nov. 20 Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. They also presented results from local business surveys and provided their list of goals into the year 2010.
Berglund said the key to success will be in developing primary, or direct, jobs, and that is their focus. The NCEDC draws together businesses and communities to plan ways to keep existing businesses that provide primary jobs and reach out to companies that want to expand into the northern Colorado area of Larimer and Weld counties.
Since 2004, they report creating over 7,000 new jobs, most of them primary. Berglund explained that primary jobs are important because they begin a healthy cycle of increased quality of community life, creation of secondary jobs and the growth of more primary jobs. But, the cycle must start somewhere.
Their first priority, Berglund explained, is keeping jobs and talent here that might go elsewhere without region-wide support. As a nonprofit entity, the Corporation provides that support by leveraging marketing dollars, partnering with government and private enterprise, and by connecting K-12 and higher education institutions with local industries.
They recently met with representatives from Aims Community College, Colorado State University, Front Range Community College and the University of Northern Colorado. Their goal was to put these schools in touch with the needs of regional businesses and encourage better communication. Berglund said they hoped to jumpstart the connection between the workforce and training/educational opportunities in order to keep talented graduates in the area.
As Stephanie Johnson explained, the NCEDC also helps communities identify new opportunities for growth of jobs and industries, and Berthoud is among those towns that have participated in this aspect of the NCEDC.
Berthoud’s Town Administrator Jim White is one of the many community volunteers who work with the NCEDC to gather information on local businesses and help assess their needs and goals. The Town’s enterprise zone is one priority for local business owners, and White explained at the luncheon that an expansion of the current zone west of Fickel Park and possibly east of First Street were under consideration.
Berthoud is one of only 16 enterprise zones in the state. Businesses are eligible to receive special tax incentives to expand or locate in the zone. The NCEDC provides help in filing for the incentives. Caroline Creager, owner of the Berthoud Athletic Club, reported they successfully received the state tax incentives for their expansion and encouraged others at the luncheon to make use of the zone status.
Johnson emphasized that collaboration is key to their, and ultimately the region’s, economic success in the future and that they hope to build on that momentum to bypass the current recession.
The NCEDC created a community profile of Berthoud on their Web site that reflects the Town’s outlook and strengths:
Dubbed Colorado’s “Garden City,” Berthoud features broad, tree-lined streets and a welcoming hometown feel. The town’s nearly 5,000 residents enjoy two parks, an outdoor swimming pool and a thriving public recreation program. With two elementary schools, a middle school and high school along with a burgeoning manufacturing and retail sector, the town’s employment opportunities are growing. Berthoud is close to Loveland and other Northern Colorado cities and offers easy access to Interstate 25.
A more complete economic profile of Berthoud is available online at www.NCEDC.com/Community_NoCo_Communities.html
The NCEDC is funded primarily through private investor members and invites interested businesses to become a part of the network. A complete 2009 economic outlook summary, 2005-2010 strategic plan, regional demographics, entrepreneur resources and industry initiatives are available at the Web site: www.NCEDC.com.
For more information contact Eric Berglund at (970) 667-0905 or by e-mail at EBerglund@NCEDC.com.