November 30, 2020 – West End Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) is pleased to announce the receipt of “Small Community of the Year-2020” from the Economic Developers Council of Colorado (EDCC) for the West End(s) of Montrose and San Miguel Counties. Announced during a virtual awards ceremony on November 18, 2020, the EDCC “is proud to recognize and showcase the organizations and people that contribute to the economic vitality in communities all across Colorado,” said Michelle Claymore, EDCC Board Chair.
The award for “Small Community of the Year” was presented to the West End for their persistence in preserving their culture and independent spirit, while looking forward to the future. Once built to support the primary mining industries of Uranium and Coal, the West End once again was facing the grim realities of a major employer leaving the community.
With the help from a grant from the Economic Development Administration, WEEDC’s mission to help develop the local economy was able to come to fruition. WEEDC’s mission was broken into three focus areas: Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship, Value-Added Agriculture and Outdoor Recreation and Tourism.
Since 2018, the grant helped fund a co-working space outfitted with the latest videoconferencing equipment, two commercial kitchens (Norwood and Naturita), a grain mill used to create value-added flour, and a provide classes and training needed to help entrepreneurs realize their goals of small business ownership. As a product of the infrastructure that has been placed, the West End became a Certified Small Business Community, counseling 43 clients through the SBDC in its first year. Eight new businesses have opened, and four others have expanded or purchased existing businesses as a direct result of WEEDC’s efforts, creating approximately 25 new jobs. Finally, a new branding effort, “Find Your Wild,” has launched at westendcolorado.com to help market the area to tourists.
“This has truly been a team effort,” stated Deana Sheriff, executive director of WEEDC. “We have tremendous partnerships with the Telluride Foundation, Skillful, Region 10, and the local towns. We would never have been able to accomplish all that has happened without their strong support of our efforts. The WEEDC team may be the boots on the ground, but these partnerships have helped launch all our initiatives and have been critical to our success.
“We knew it would be a challenge, with the closure of both a coal mine and power generation facility. That just made us work harder, and we hope this is the start of something much larger,” Deana added. “We are getting noticed by businesses and individuals who want to get out of metropolitan locations and are looking for a beautiful place with excellent broadband to operate their businesses. We know this area requires careful growth and attention to the details so we can keep this area special. We’ve helped stabilize the local economy, and business owners have felt confident enough to start something new. Now we need to ensure that all the needs of the community are met with focused and appropriate development.”
For more information on WEEDC activities, project examples and contacts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-865-2499.
For more information on the Economic Development Council of Colorado, please email email@example.com or call 720-260-4478.