A federal grant will fund an economic development coordinator to help Silverton and San Juan County businesses during the potential Superfund cleanup of historic mines.
“They are totally reliant on tourism, and we don’t know how that will be impacted,” said Laura Lewis Marchino, the deputy director of the Region 9 Economic Development District.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration is providing about $115,600 to pay a coordinator for two years and cover expenses such as marketing materials and travel, Marchino said.
The coordinator will be focused on supporting existing businesses through the federal cleanup of the Bonita Peak Mining District, which could include 48 mine-related sites.
The mining district was recommended for a Superfund listing in April following the Aug. 5 mine blowout, and the proposed designation is nearing the end of a 60-day comment period.
Easing the housing shortage when Superfund workers come to town will likely be another priority for the coordinator, she said.
During the construction of the temporary water-treatment plant near the Gold King Mine, there was not enough housing, she said.
The town needs more rentals so that hotel and motel rooms aren’t used as permanent housing.
The five-member San Juan Development Association Board that includes representatives from the town of Silverton, San Juan County, the Silverton Chamber of Commerce and Region 9 will hire the new coordinator.
Region 9 will manage the two-year grant, and Marchino would like to have the position filled by late summer.
“We needed to do what we could to help,” she said.