Region 10 Offers Programs to Boost Telluride’s Economy
by Thomas Wirth
Sep 15, 2011 | 1059 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – Baked in Telluride is one local business taking advantage of Telluride’s membership in the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning. Region 10 Executive Director Paul Gray told the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday that through Region 10, BIT had successfully secured a loan of $150,000 for its reconstruction.

Established in 1972, Region 10 is a non-profit organization offering public programs in support of eighteen local communities and six counties in western Colorado.

Region 10 has several ways to help businesses secure loans, Gray said. The Small Business Association is one source of micro-loans, those under $50,000, and because of some procedural changes, Region 10 is now able to make the process much easier and more flexible by approving loans internally.

As was the case with BIT, whose loan came through a Community Development Block Grant, where not all loans are limited to $50,000. Gray explained that the money in Region 10’s loan pool comes from approximately five different federal programs, each with different limits and requirements.

“What people need to do is come to us with their needs and we will try to tailor a source of money to their particular needs,” he said. “If we can’t find any shoe that fits from any of these federal or state programs, Region 10 has its own money, and we can use that.”

Gray applauded Region 10’s new Business Loan Director, Vince Fandel, for helping the organization close loans totaling $580,000 in their 2011 fiscal year. In addition, those loans helped leverage additional funding from local banks that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to those businesses, he reported.

Not all loans are successful, though. After seven months of multi-party negotiations, an attempt to secure a $1.02 million loan for Extra Aircraft to establish its American operations in Montrose failed. “It didn’t work, which is unfortunate,” said Gray, “It would have been a good regional business – clean and high tech.”

Loans are not Region 10’s only business. The organization also oversees the region’s agency on aging, helps in transportation and transit planning and development, helps businesses to secure tax credits through the Enterprise Zone program and has created an enterprise center in Montrose to serve as a “business incubator.”

The towns of Telluride and Mountain Village are exempt from Enterprise Zone programs, which are targeted toward economically depressed, often rural, areas. However, Gray added, Enterprise Zone tax incentives and grants are available to the rest of San Miguel County.

The next step for Region 10 is to focus on wider economic development. The organization has recently been involved with the Governor’s “Bottoms Up” economic development process and a consolidated regional economic development plan. Grant funded training of economic development teams for all six counties under Region 10’s bailiwick is scheduled to begin shortly.

Another grant has funded an economic analysis of all six counties, from which Region 10 hopes to produce an “online Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that will identify and focus on the high potential actions we can take regionally to move our economy out of the recession.”

In 2012 San Miguel County entities will pay an assessment of $12,643 to Region 10 for the administration of its various programs. Of that the San Miguel County ounty would pay $8,351, Norwood $886, Telluride $2,011 and Mountain Village $1,395. Region 10 reports that 2011 benefits to San Miguel County came to $244,514 – a 19.3 to 1 return on assessment.

Pearl Property Hydrology Study

The Telluride Town Council decided on Tuesday not to spend $10,000 to further fund a hydrology study on the Pearl Property and RV lot. After lengthy discussion, council agreed that continued monitoring of existing piezometers, which measure ground water levels, would yield ample information for the town and its citizens to make an informed decision on the possibility of future development on those properties.

Data collected so far indicates that groundwater is consistently over seven feet below the surface of the RV lot and between two and three feet below ground surface north of Entrada Condominiums. Staff anticipated that high water marks next spring, depending on snow pack and run-off, would not likely exceed an additional foot to a foot and a half, but agreed continued monitoring would be beneficial not only for assessment of development potential, but for protection of the wetlands.

The Telluride Hospital District is one party that might be interested in building on the uplands at the south end of the property, but having recently completed a renovation of the existing Telluride Medical Center and with 21 years left on its lease, the district is in no rush to move forward with development plans, according to Director Gordon Reichard.

Hillside Access Road

The Town Council unanimously agreed on Tuesday to amend and extend a Letter of Agency to Windhorse Properties allowing the company time to continue negotiations with neighbors in the Primrose subdivision and town to create access to hillside properties. Agreement with the five Primrose homeowners most directly affected by a new road had just been reached, and Council applauded the cooperative spirit of the process.

Councilmember David Oyster asked whether the town was conceding too much to the Primrose homeowners and perhaps setting a precedent for future hillside development. Councilmember Ann Brady said that she felt strongly that the concessions were beneficial to all.

Councilmember Thom Carnevale agreed. “When we look back over some of the difficulties we’ve had with development over the last 20 or 30 years, in terms of the Council and development, this is a glowing example of cooperation that exists between giving people their property rights and gaining benefit for the town,” he said.

As to precedent, Councilmember Chris Myers pointed out that the Letter of Agency “in no way implies development approvals.” Attorneys for both the Town and Windhorse concurred. The potential agreements would only improve the roadway to the end of the Primrose subdivision until a development plan was approved, they said. No development approval is currently being sought.
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