Governor plans for thriving Colo.

Partnerships will be primary goal of effort

With the work of the statewide economic blueprint complete, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s team is continuing with its plan to boost Colorado’s economy.

A key part of the process is creating regional partnerships – groups of key players from the public and private sectors in each of the state’s 14 regions, state officials said.

The officials, representatives from the state’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, visited Durango on Thursday to pitch their regional partnerships plan and asked for feedback at the Region 9 Economic Development District’s board of directors meeting.

The partnerships will focus on finding a way to make improvements each region identified in its portion of the economic blueprint.

“The blueprint was a framework,” said Karla Tartz, deputy director for the state Economic Development Office. “Now we have to make simple yet achievable plans.”

The 14 groups will be tasked with identifying assets and areas of improvement in each region.

Another goal is for regional groups to have the ability to bring the right parties together to complete a major project or help recruit a new business, she said.

The five counties in Southwest Colorado’s Region 9 are well ahead of most others in collaborating and forming the foundation for a regional partnership, Tartz said.

The Region 9 organization is taking the lead to form this area’s partnership. It has began the process with a proposal to use an already-established advisory council as the basis for the state-required partnership. The existing advisory council was created to oversee the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy report, a collection of region-specific economic development information that Region 9 is required to produce every five years.

Because the group’s work and its private-public sector balance mirrors what the state envisions for its regional groups, it makes sense to build the partnerships from there, said Laura Lewis Marchino, assistant director for Region 9.

Marchino said she will reach out to different industries and organizations to fill out representation on the state’s regional group as the process progresses.

The state’s next step will be later this month, when the office of economic development will tour Colorado to kick off the formation of the regional councils.

Each region’s strategic plan will be pooled with 15 plans aimed at boosting key industries. That will form the basis for the state’s three-year economic development plan, Tartz said.

The goal is to have the regional and industry-specific plans completed by November, so they can be used to inform policy-making during the 2013 legislative session.

ecowan@durangoherald.com