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By Muriel Eason
Special to The SUN
The Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (CDC) believes that it is important that the community give input on CDC priorities, so the CDC created a Board of Advisors (Advisors) comprising members in leadership roles in sectors of the community important to local development.
The Advisors are modeled after a successful program at the La Plata County Economic Alliance. The Advisors will enable the CDC to monitor and report progress on the Community Development Action Plan (CDAP), which was approved by the Board of County Commissioners last year. The Advisors also begin to address the need for more collaboration (recommended by Downtown Colorado, Inc. in its downtown revitalization assessment). There are too many groups working on good ideas and solving problems, but there has been duplication of efforts and sometimes tensions arise from competing initiatives.
The CDC formed the Advisors specifically to share updates on what various organizations in the community are doing and what problems they are trying to solve, so the CDC can not only stay in touch with those making positive progress on moving the community forward, but also begin to collaborate and coordinate. This is the essence of “community development,” a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems.
The Advisors will bring everyone together to discuss challenges, needs and celebrations in regard to economic and community development in an intentional, productive dialogue. The Advisors will add tremendous depth of knowledge and experience to the CDC.
The composition of the Advisors may shift over time, but the Advisors initially include Michael Whiting (Archuleta County commissioner), David Schanzenbaker (Pagosa Springs town councilor), Ed Morlan (executive director, Region 9 EDD and representing the Fort Lewis Small Business Development Center), Linda Reed (assistant superintendent, Archuleta School District 50 JT.), Brad Cochennet (CEO, Pagosa Mountain Hospital), Rod Proffitt (chair, San Juan Water Conservancy District and AICP certified planner), Gregg Mayo (project manager, PAWSD), Mary Jo Coulehan (executive director, Chamber of Commerce), Ronnie Zaday (chair, SW Workforce Board), Sherry Waner (First Southwest Bank VP Government Guaranteed Lending), Wen Saunders (Realtor), Chip Munday (general manager, Pagosa Lakes Property Owner’s Association), Jered Davis (Skywerx), Ken Vickerstaff (founder, GeoGrown, and industry expert in organic foods), Mark Weiler (president, Parelli Natural Horsemanship and chair of the Regional Task Force for Infrastructure Development in Pagosa Springs), Bob Scott (owner, Scott Strategic Investments) and Rich Lindblad (The Lindblad Group, SBDC business advisor and former CDC executive director).
The first Advisor meeting was held last week. The meeting brought people together who had never been together before in our community. The Advisors are a diverse group, but as each Advisor shared some background on their roles, the problems they were trying to solve and the initiatives they were trying to move forward , questioning, collaboration, understanding and appreciation began to occur. They began to appreciate that the Advisors will become a real force in true community development.