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March 28, 2013 7:53 am

EDITORIAL: City, PEP partnership ‘win-win’ for community

Written by Ilene Olson

After an extended absence, it feels very good to have a solid, proactive, forward-looking economic development effort under way again in Powell.

Last week’s agreements between the city of Powell and the Powell Economic Partnership, or PEP, was especially good news, and, as Mayor Don Hillman said, is a “win-win situation.”

For a few years, it seemed Powell was holding its collective breath as the community waited for someone to take the leadership role vacated when Dave Reetz retired from the (then) First National Bank. Reetz headed up the economic development office at the bank for many years.

During those years, Powell was recognized repeatedly as a progressive community with traditional values and a can-do attitude. Successes include the city-wide fiber-optic network now known as Powellink, The Merc and the creation of an industrial park and a business park to help attract businesses.

After Reetz’s retirement, the community seemed to lose much of that momentum. While that doubtless was due in part to the stumbling national economy and its local ramifications, it also was a reflection of a leadership vacuum in regard to economic development.

But that’s been changing for some time now, as evidenced by the formation of the Powell Economic Partnership, consisting of leaders at Northwest College, the city of Powell, Powell Valley Healthcare, agriculture and small businesses, among others.

For the last couple of years, the partnership has been working to define its goals and its role in the community, and to become a stable, viable entity. With some of that work completed, the partnership now is beginning to reach out to local businesses, organizations and to the community as a whole.

PEP recently announced the planned construction of four new or expanded businesses in the Gateway West business park.

Local economic development efforts got a huge boost last week when the Powell City Council agreed to take two important steps to partner with PEP to further its mission.

First, the council voted to provide $33,000 from the city’s economic development fund to the Powell Economic Partnership to further the organization’s efforts to establish a stable financial footing for its economic development efforts. While declining to obligate future councils, councilmen expressed a willingness to make similar contributions to the organization for the next six years to help put the organization on a path toward self-sustainability.

In addition, city leaders agreed to establish the Powell Economic Growth Fund to provide a source of funding for future economic development projects.

Money for the fund will come from payments made by businesses that will receive city-sponsored grant funding from the Wyoming Business Council. When repaid, the money from those grants, which essentially are loans, goes to the city. The model proposes that 70 percent of that money will go toward economic development projects, 22.5 percent toward an infrastructure fund for the city and the remaining 7.5 percent to the Powell Economic Partnership to cover costs of program administration.

Those funds, invested as envisioned, will provide a giant step forward in economic development for Powell, both by supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones that will benefit the community.

Projections, based on three economic development projects annually, show the Powell Economic Growth Fund could grow to $2.5 million by the year 2025.

And, as PEP Board Chairman Rick LaPlante put it, “when you’re getting into $2.5 million, you’re getting into funds that can move the dial.”

Councilman John Wetzel summed it up this way: “This is probably one of the best answers (to economic development) I’ve seen in the 20 years I’ve lived here.”

3 comments

  • Comment Link March 28, 2013 8:10 am posted by clipstein

    must be april 1sat.....why is it so hard to tell the truth

  • Comment Link March 28, 2013 8:25 am posted by Salty Dawg

    I wouldn't call some of things listed in this article any success's.The problem in Powell's gray past has been poor leadership and perhaps some outsider will step up and get the ship righted again.That said,being selective about communication between the Chamber and business has been a failure for some.I think most of us know who,what and why.

  • Comment Link April 10, 2013 10:17 pm posted by Dave C

    It will never happen as described.

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