Oak Creek Organizers of an economic study for the South Routt area are sending out more than 150 letters to business owners, workers and other members of the public to elicit participants.
The main role of participants will be to join in focus group discussions, which will take place Aug. 14 at the South Routt Community Center in Oak Creek.
The discussions cover four topics:
n Agriculture as a viable industry in South Routt.
n Education as it relates to workforce development and training.
n Government processes, permits, regulations and incentives as they relate to retaining and attracting business.
n Infrastructure, including transportation, utilities and telecommunications.
Participants in each group will be asked to describe South Routt's challenges and strengths in each area, as well as projects that the area could accomplish in the next year and the next five to 20 years.
"We understand that it's difficult for a lot of people to get away during the day," Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
But, she said, community participation is crucial, as the strength of the project depends on input from residents.
"We want everyone's input," she said.
For people who can't attend the focus group meetings, it will still be possible to give input through letters or e-mail.
For three days in August, a group of private sector business people and public officials will study economic conditions in the South Routt communities of Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Phippsburg, Yampa and Toponas and the communities' potential for economic development.
The study is part of the Colorado Community Assessment Program, an economic study sponsored by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Only six communities are selected for the program annually.
At the end of the visit, the group of assessors will offer recommendations for how the region can grow economically in ways that its residents want. Using demographic data they already have collected about the area, along with their findings from the focus group discussions and from a tour they will take on Aug. 13, the assessors will present conclusions on Aug. 15.
In an earlier study of Rangely, Stahoviak said the team recommended that the town hire a person to help the community diversify its economy, which is based mostly on oil and gas.
"In South Routt, who knows what they're going to come up with," Stahoviak said. "I think there's a lot of opportunity in South Routt for small businesses to locate."
The team of assessors has not yet been chosen, Stahoviak said, but probably will have about seven people.
"It's quite an offer," Stahoviak said about the project. "It's a unique opportunity for South Routt to have some discussions."
For more information, call Stahoviak at 870-5222 or David Bonfiglio at 736-2377. If you cannot attend the focus group meetings but would like to respond in writing to the discussion questions, send responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Routt County Board of County Commissioners, P.O. Box 773598, Steamboat Springs CO 80477.