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November 10, 2011 10:03 am

Economic development fundraising launched

Written by Ilene Olson

$246,000 of $600,000 goal already raised

A drive is under way to raise $600,000 to fund a local economic development organization for three years through the Powell Economic Partnership Inc.

The partnership’s mission is to “unite the business community and government to create wealth, jobs and support the quality of life in a manner that is consistent with the current culture of the Powell Valley,” Shelby Wetzel said in a news release. Wetzel is a PEP steering committee member and co-owner of the Powell Tribune.

The envisioned organization would “lead efforts for long-term economic growth and help sustain Powell as a vibrant community,” the release said.

“It’s going to give existing businesses a place to go (for) resources to learn how to expand their businesses, and it will give them a resource for financial assistance, training, inventories of related business. It’s also going to give people outside our community a place to find us if they’re interested in coming here,” LeAnne Kindred, chairwoman of the partnership’s board, said Tuesday.

“Our first priority will be to facilitate opportunities for growth and development of existing businesses, and then recruit new, complementary businesses to Powell.”

The partnership consists of local business leaders and representatives from Northwest College and its foundation, the city of Powell, Park County and Powell Valley Healthcare.

Other board members are Paul Prestwich, Rick LaPlante, Trace Paul, Robin Roling, James Seckman and Kelly Spiering, and 27 other people are serving on the partnership’s steering committee.

The partnership element is critical to the group’s mission, said Dave Reetz, who formerly oversaw local economic development efforts through the Powell Valley Economic Development Alliance as an employee of First National Bank, now First Bank of Wyoming. That arrangement ended when the bank was sold and Reetz retired.

Reetz said economic development efforts he led were successful because the alliance worked as a partner with the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce and the city of Powell.

“When we were able to put together our efforts, it was a true teamwork,” he said. “All the successes we had were due to the team effort. The Powell way is not to try to compete against each other, but to try to work together.”

Kindred said the $600,000 will employ a director and provide an operating budget for the partnership for three years.

Prestwich said, “Many good people have put energy into planning work for a new economic development organization, but we need a dedicated staff person whose job is to focus business development within our community.”

Kindred added, “We chose three years because it will give this organization a chance to succeed. In three years, our hope is to have the benefits of it obvious so that people can continue in their support.”

Reetz said the effort is needed.

“We certainly need to be in the game, and we need a dedicated individual to perform that role that I was fortunate enough to have in those years,” he said. “When prospects come to the state of Wyoming, normally the trips and all of the activities are centered around having the community prepared to solicit these businesses. If you don’t have someone dedicated to doing that, it becomes real difficult to compete for some of those types of businesses.”

He also stressed the importance of strengthening existing businesses.

“Statistics have proven that most job growth occurs through existing business when you diversify, expand or draw on supportive businesses. That’s why I always promoted the chamber connection.”

Kindred said the new partnership plans to do the same.

“I anticipate we will work hand in hand with the chamber,” she said. The chamber and the partnership “have different jobs to do, and both of them are big. They will work in harmony, and that is our goal.”

Kindred said it is time for a new group to step forward to lead and fund the economic development effort.

“There was a generation of people who led this community to its greatness, and those people are tired now. So it’s up to a new generation to keep it going and make it even better.”

Combined with leadership gifts from PEP Board and Steering Committee members, $247,000 or 41 percent of the funds have already been secured. Fundraising volunteers will begin contacting other local businesses and individuals in November.

To participate in the fund drive or learn more about the Powell Economic Partnership’s work, contact LeAnne Kindred at 754-4132.

5 comments

  • Comment Link November 10, 2011 2:27 pm posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    How much more "economic development" does this town need? You all have two industrial parks now sitting mostly empty,who was behind that fiasco? Looks like some serious house cleaning is in order around Powell.

  • Comment Link November 10, 2011 5:25 pm posted by Dewey

    Oh...that Groundhog Day movie is playing again.

    One piece of advice: try to resist begging the City and the County for funding. There is no reason whatsoever to use public money to fund private enterprise. Economic Development is voodoo. Taxpayer funds should not go there, even if they have a chicken or goat to skewer. But just you watch ...

    I'm curious what the economic whiz-bang gurus of the Greater Powell Valley will come up with for " innovation" and job bait. Can't you just be happy with a record sugar beet crop instead ?

  • Comment Link November 12, 2011 3:23 am posted by clipstein

    Yep and not long ago they wanted to run this prestly fella out of town.......
    might not be a bad idea as everything this town comes up with turns into a disaster......
    of course buying local you should ask him where he buys his autos??????
    Yep buy local..... a great lie....... oh you support me and i will go elsewhere to shop..... just like you cannot have opinion in powell...don't disagree with the good old boys or we will try to destroy you...... now that atittude should really help economic development???
    put a camera at Bridger facing the north bound traffic and I wonder how many on this economic thing are headed for billings......

  • Comment Link November 14, 2011 3:32 pm posted by Salty Dawg

    Montana is not dumb,they rebuilt the highways to Bridger,both ways,so Big Horn Basin people can get to Billings faster for better selections and cheaper prices.The old BS that it costs more gas money to get to Billings doesn't fly anymore as every time I go there I see hordes of people,even local bigots,coming back with pickups and trailers full of goods they bought in Billings.Some of these people are local big shots as I have seen them stop in Bridger to buy lotto tickets and booze.So much for taking care of the customer base in this area.

  • Comment Link November 17, 2011 4:18 am posted by clipstein

    do you realize the city budget is 3 grand per person??????? where does this money come from?????? the taxpayers...that 3 grand is just for starters and how much more are they wasting.........they are not stupid but are have bad luck with their stupid decisions.

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