Economic development partners and business leaders from the area gathered last week for cocktails, a pep talk and a few pats on the back for their latest business successes.
It was a formal introduction for many of the about 50 people in the room to the reinvention of the La Plata Economic Development Action Partnership, or LEAD.
Now called the La Plata Economic Development Alliance, the group has a new focus, mission, leadership board, website and plan to rebrand La Plata County and Durango to businesses around the nation.
People who are willing to re-frame their businesses and organizations are doing well despite the economic downturn, said Nancy Brockman, who was contracted to rebrand LEAD and is the owner of the firm Chimera Communications.
So thats what the Alliance has done, Brockman said, regrouped and checked our egos at the door to create a true alliance thats devoted to ensuring that success is La Plata Countys for the taking.
I want to live there, a voice shouted from the crowd as some of the images and marketing materials that will be used to draw new business to the area were debuted on flat-screen televisions.
Thats the point, said Jack Llewellyn, director of the Durango Area Chamber of Commerce, and La Plata County Commissioner Wally White.
Theres a significant opportunity here that could be capitalized on, White said.
In addition to the beautiful landscape, interesting people and creative enterprises that make this region unique, a plethora of resources are available to the business community that other companies might like to access.
With La Plata Countys typical delayed reaction to national economic cycles, the pain of the recession isnt likely to end soon, White said.
So what we really need in these economic times is to attract new business, White said, adding that strong marketing efforts are critical. Fortunately, Brockman said, there is plenty of fuel for the marketing fire.
Success stories are bubbling out of here, one after the other, she said.
Five local companies were recognized by ColoradoBiz magazine in recent months.
StoneAge Waterblast Tools was named the top manufacturing firm in the state. And the companys chief executive officer, Keri Petranek, was named one of the states top 25 most influential young professionals.
Soundtraxx was listed in the top 250 private companies in Colorado.
Alpine Bank was declared one of the states top 10 best companies to work for.
And Three Springs received top design award in sustainable community building.
Those are huge milestones, Brockman said, adding that now community leaders, economic-development stakeholders and local businesses must keep the momentum going.
Mostly its about making sure we keep bubbling from within, Brockman said.
Brad Tafoya, a local certified pubic accountant and current president of LEAD helping the new Alliance board to transition, said the Alliances main focus now is to create and bring in quality jobs. With the communitys latest successes, theres a window of opportunity for La Plata County to be a shining light in a dim national economy.
The communitys first chance to shine will be at an upcoming League of Cities national conference in Denver. Durango was asked to be a showcase city at the event. And the opportunity to sell La Plata County to the about 7,000 cities expected to attend wont be missed, officials said.
Printed materials and videos will be rolling on television sets. Flash drives with video and presentations preloaded on them also will be handed out.
The areas best foot will be forward, Alliance partners said.
I think were poised to make a bit of a splash, White said. Weve done it at the state level now, and theres no reason not to go national.