Businesses in Larimer and Weld County are reportedly moving forward with a plan to create a private sector economic development organization which they plan to launch in early 2015. The effort to bring private funding to attract development and major employers to the region is being spearheaded locally by Weld County car dealer Scott Ehrlich and by Tom Gendron, chairman, CEO and president of Woodward Inc., in Fort Collins. The effort also is backed by the likes of Windsor’s Water Valley developer Martin Lind and the McWhinneys of Loveland.
Interestingly, Erlich is currently the chair of Weld County’s Upstate Colorado Economic Development. He says the private sector group is not intended to replace NCEDC or Upstate and that it’s a different model. “That’s not our goal here, to collapse the two existing organizations to no longer exist,” Ehrlich said. “I don’t think Upstate is broken. I don’t want people to think this group that’s forming is because what we have is broken. It’s just the notion if we can market the area under one organization, and advocate for business as a representative of the entire area, we think we could have more clout and influence.”
How this private sector organization will function and how it will interface with NCEDC and Upstate, as well as the three major chambers and the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, remain to be seen. Across the region it seems that governments are struggling to determine their role in economic development. For example, the City of Longmont has transferred those functions to the Longmont Area Economic Council, which like NCEDC is searching for a new CEO.