Jasper Welch, who served on the Durango City Council from 1991 to 1999 with two stints as mayor, has been hired as a consultant to help guide the La Plata Economic Development Alliance as it searches for a new executive director.
Mike Russell, chairman of the alliance’s board of directors, said Welch will be the first point of contact with businesses studying a relocation to Durango or La Plata County for the three- to six-month period the alliance expects before a new permanent executive director is hired.
“One of the reasons we hired Jasper is he has a strong relationship with the business community in Durango, La Plata County and Farmington, and northern New Mexico as well. Jasper has local knowledge. He knows who does what and will be able to readily deal with inquiries,” Russell said.
The alliance receives a couple of calls monthly from businesses examining relocating to the area, and Russell said Welch will serve as the firms’ first point of contact in dealings with local officials.
Welch will also inform the board about firms looking to relocate and help existing businesses in the area looking for larger space in order to grow.
Russell also expects Welch will represent business interests and the alliance before La Plata County commissioners during the ongoing rewrite of the land-use codes and the examination of adding zoning to at least portions of the county.
Roger Zalneraitis, former executive director of La Plata County Economic Development Alliance, resigned two weeks ago after accepting an offer to become the economic development manager for the Permanent Fund of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
Welch said, “The alliance has done a great job, and Roger has done a great job. It’s important to keep existing programs moving forward. Board members don’t want to miss a beat.”
Welch has 20 years of experience in business management. He owned Basin Reproduction & Printing for seven years and headed the Durango Chamber of Commerce for four years. Since 1999, Welch has directed the business incubator at San Juan College in Farmington.
Welch currently serves on the advisory board for Durango Space, a coworking facility where freelance professionals or telecommuters are provided office space and other resources. Welch and partner Nancy Wharton opened Durango Space in February 2011.
Russell said a committee has been formed to lead the search for a new executive director, and he expects a firm will be hired to conduct a national search for the permanent executive director.