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March 01, 2011 8:38 am

Target Powell Valley disbands after 40 years in community

Written by Tessa Schweigert

After 40 years of nurturing local economic development through land sales, Target Powell Valley is coming to an end.

“Target Powell Valley just ran out of money. The bank had to do something, and Target Powell Valley had to do something, too,” said Dick Nelson, chairman of the First National Bank and Trust Board.

Directors with the First National Bank and Trust Board and Target Powell Valley Board mutually agreed Friday to transfer the nonprofit’s deeds, valuing around $1.5 million, to the bank in lieu of foreclosure. The bank now becomes the owner of all Target Powell Valley property in the area.

Land sales slowed in recent months, and Target Powell Valley struggled to pay its accountant fees, insurance, taxes, interest and other expenses on its acreage throughout Powell.

“The economic meltdown of 2008 finally had its impact — Target Powell Valley hung on as long as they could, but the sales just shut off,” said Doug Nissen, senior vice president of First National Bank and a former officer for Target Powell Valley.

Since the early 1970s, Target Powell Valley has offered property in business parks for commercial growth, and Nelson said Friday that will continue, adding the land still will be listed through local real estate agents.

“The properties of Target Powell Valley will still be there to benefit Powell .... the focal point is the same it’s been all along,” Nelson said.

Leah Bruscino, northwest director of the Wyoming Business Council, said although Target Powell Valley is disbanding, she doesn’t expect much to change in terms of the land being available for commercial growth. Target Powell Valley received Business Ready Community grant funding to develop infrastructure for hundreds of acres of land over the years.

“I believe the bank will continue to market those lots as commercial property,” she said.

Target Powell Valley began in January 1971 after the Pepsi company out of Worland was looking at building in the Powell area, but had a difficult time securing property. Target Powell Valley formed and offered them a parcel east of town, said Ken Witzeling, who has been involved with the organization since its inception.

Funded with a $7,900 loan and then a $10,000 grant from R.A. Nelson, then president of First National Bank, Target Powell Valley began. Eventually, the group received loans and grants from other sources, expanding its property in the area and starting an industrial park — the first in the state, Witzeling said.

The list of projects built on land once owned by Target Powell Valley includes: Running Horse Realty, Eastmans’ Magazine, the Fitch building, The Learning Garden, Radio Shack, Family Dollar, Quality Propane, Powell’s second water tower, residential properties, a west-end walking path and other buildings.

“Ten years ago, it was bare ground,” Nissen said of the west-end developments.

The nonprofit also donated land for the veterans’ memorial west of Powell and Centennial Park, which the city of Powell is looking to develop as funds become available. Immanuel Lutheran Church is looking to build a new church on Target Powell Valley land in west Powell as well.

Two projects currently under development, Mountain Spirit Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and Gluten Free Oats’ processing facility, are being constructed on land purchased through Target Powell Valley.

“It’s quite a bit of activity when you start to add it up,” said Nelson.

Nelson said Target Powell Valley’s success over the decades depended on a collaborative effort with the city of Powell, Park County, the State of Wyoming, Wyoming Business Council, Northwest College, the schools and other entities.

“We couldn’t have done it without all their help,” Nelson said.

Target Powell Valley operated under the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce until about two years ago, when it separated from the organization because of the chamber board’s concerns about liability with Target Powell Valley’s debt.

Bruscino said it’s disappointing to see Target Powell Valley come to an end, adding “they’ve been such a good partner throughout the years.”

Bruscino added that she trusts the decision to disband Target Powell Valley “was made thoughtfully and with the Powell community’s best interests in mind.”

“Powell is better off for what Target Powell Valley has done,” said Trace Paul, a First National Bank construction lender.

Ken Witzeling, Jim Linton, Ron Blevins and Toby Bonner served on the Target Powell Valley board. Bonner also is the general manager of the Tribune.

“It was all volunteer work,” Witzeling said.

“For a nonprofit to make it 40 years is pretty incredible,” said Ty Nelson, president of First National Bank.

In addition to helping the community’s economic growth, Witzeling said it also helped in determining Powell’s layout.

“It provided for good planning, and that’s critical,” he said.

Dick Nelson said he believes the future of Powell “is as good as anywhere else.” He added that land developed by Target Powell Valley is ready to go.

“From an economic development standpoint, you’ve got to have land,” he said, adding that Target Powell Valley always offered a good availability of land with the infrastructure in place.

“It’s available for the benefit of Powell’s economic development,” Dick Nelson said, adding the bank’s board was sorry Target Powell Valley had to end, “but in these economic times, something had to give.”

1 Comment

  • Comment Link March 02, 2011 11:04 am posted by DP

    Funny,it wasn't very long ago,last year in fact,that TPV and the locals were crowing about how rosy the eceonomy is around here.How's that hopey-changey thing working for ya now?

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