At the March 26th BOCC meeting, Grand County Economic Development Coordinator, Diane Butler, delivered her quarterly update to the commissioners. She told the commissioners she had several countywide projects to provide updates on: the Workforce Web Portal, a collective effort by local employers and other stakeholders, the Student to Career Opportunity Initiative partnered with Grand County Higher Education and local school districts, and, CRAFT 101 – a grant opportunity shared with Grand County Historical Association and Grand County Tourism.
Butler told the commissioners the Workforce Web Portal, WorkinGrand.com, was live. It has been in testing with over 20 representatives from the project’s Anchor Employers, a collective of small and large Grand County employers, were actively involved in the process.
Butler admitted that most of the employers are from the eastern end of the county, but she has plans to “walk the main street in Kremmling” to visit with employers, help them set up their business profiles and post their jobs.
“Lots more people are going to come to the table now that it is live”, said Butler.
They are still making tweaks to the site and she encouraged the commissioners to visit the site and comment on their findings.
Currently, the primary areas of focus are on jobs and careers available. “Housing is a challenge. Many homeowners that rent their homes long-term don’t live here”, said Butler. Reaching these homeowners to ask them to list their rentals has been difficult thus far.
“In April and May, there will be big push with a PR campaign.” Butler said she is in the process of identifying the source of funding for the marketing efforts to get the word out that the site is live. “It’s FREE!”, said Butler, adding, “a tool that is extremely easy for an employer to put their information in”.
The portal was funded by Freeport McMoran ($10,000), DOLA ($25,000), and Grand County ($5,000).
Chair Rich Cimino, said, “This is very impressive and very exciting. Is there an annual cost for this?”. Butler replied, “We don’t know what the funding will be for that ongoing”. She said that, all along, at every meeting with stakeholders, she had told them ‘this is free at this point, but may be a collective share into the future’. “We don’t want to be the only skin in the game. I will make a proactive search for funding. The major stakeholders agree this has value, but I am not sure how much the amount of collective funding would look like.”
Butler pointed out that managing the social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest would be time-consuming, possibly requiring a full-time person or entity to manage.
“What we recognize is the need to attract and retain employees. Retaining employees is where we are starting.” Employers will direct their employees to the site as the winter or summer season comes to a close, so they can find year-round employment, remain in the county and become part of the community.
They have also created a toolkit for employers and organizations to utilize. The kit includes logos and materials to help them engage with the site. “If we don’t do this, it isn’t going to work. At the end, it’s only a website and if people aren’t using it, it’s not going to work.”
The Student to Career Opportunity program is a partnership with Grand County Higher Education, East and West Grand School Counselors, Superintendents and Principals, and Craig Schneider, Entrepreneurship Camp. Upcoming programs are funded by The Daniels Fund and COSI grants.
On April 11th, they are hosting a Middle Park and West Grand Career Fair in Kremmling. Open to all 9th & 10th graders, the Career Fair will feature roundtables with industry-sectors, focusing not on actual jobs, but more on career pathways. The students will pre-register and be assigned 5 different sectors for the day. “Hopefully, they’ll walk away knowing the career tracks and paths after it is done”, said Butler.
May 2-4, they are hosting an Entrepreneurship Camp, a student to career initiative starting with 8th graders. The camp will be hosted by the Middle Park High School Entrepreneur Club.
The program is also working with students on job shadowing and internship opportunities.
The CRAFT 101 program is funded by a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office. Butler explained that it was brought together through Grand County Tourism and Historical Association who had applied for the grant collectively. The purpose is to create awareness to the county’s cultural heritage, culinary, breweries, distilleries and agritourism.
“We do a great job in tourism, but focus on our bigger assets”, said Butler. She told the commissioners there are interesting points along the way that should also be promoted, to find the richness and uniqueness of our county. The program is created to help find ways to promote rural tourism. “People can enrich their experience from point A to point B.”
The first of 3 scheduled sessions was held on March 18th at the Granby Library. The sessions are open to the public, and, 25 attended the sessions on Rural Tourism and Visitor Readiness.
The next session is scheduled for April 8 and they’ll be discussing Sustainable Tourism and Marketing & Social Media. The third session will take place on April 22 where they will talk about Culinary & Agritourism and Cultural & Heritage Tourism.
“The only cost for these has been labor. The grant includes money for meals, so the sessions also offer a light breakfast and lunch”.
The goal of the program is to develop an app or audio journeys throughout the county. It also works to break down barriers and get people to work together.
Butler also gave an update on the Grand Lake Heart & Soul initiative, a two year process, funded by the Orton Foundation and a match by the Town of Grand Lake. She told them they are currently in the middle of completing Phase 2 and that the Grand Lake team is looking at a community meeting in early summer.
She also told them that the Space to Create initiative efforts continue in Grand Lake. They recently had 67 people turn out for focus groups where they received good feedback. They have completed their Feasibility Study and are planning to conduct a Market Survey in late spring or early summer.
Butler thanked the commissioners for their support and invited them to attend the various workshops and meetings to keep up with goings on in county Economic Development.
To listen to the meetings and learn more, visit: co.grand.co.us.