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Multiple Irons in the Fire: Region 10’s multiple economic development projects

Multiple Irons in the Fire: Region 10’s multiple economic development projects

Region 10 has numerous irons in the fire at the moment. Currently, the organization is in the midst of several critical projects that focus on three specific community and economic development issues: broadband, economic diversification, and transit. Since these projects are currently overlapping, we thought that it would be best to provide updates on each of these initiatives so that our members can stay informed.

Broadband

As many know, internet services and broadband capacity are limited on the Western Slope. With funding secured from a Department of Local Affairs grant and the support of a diverse collection of community stakeholders, Region 10 is tackling broadband implementation planning at a regional level across six very different counties.

In June 2014, the broadband steering committee issued a RFP for consultation. After careful consideration, the group awarded NEO Fiber, a technologically savvy consulting group based in Carbondale, with the task of creating a detailed broadband implementation plan. The plan will identify the costs, engineering details, and funding mechanisms for “shovel ready” projects for each participating community. Each community will then be able to leverage NEO Fiber’s findings for additional grant funding or private financing. The ultimate goal is to increase the affordability, capacity, and redundancy of broadband internet throughout our six-county region.

NEO Fiber, Region 10, and the broadband steering committee will have hosted a dozen community meetings all over the six-county region. Representatives from anchor institutions (e.g., schools, hospitals, government, etc.) attended to discuss their current level of service, their needs, and their goals. In addition, NEO Fiber has hosted open conversations with current internet providers to see what current infrastructure is currently in place, and how can these providers collaborate with existing communities to potentially forge public-private partnerships that improve internet service for businesses and residences. In addition to these meetings, NEO Fiber is in its initial phases of engineering scoping for the various communities.

NEO Fiber is one month into their nine month commitment. To stay updated on the latest developments, please frequent region10.net/broadband for the latest information.

Economic Diversification

It is common for small rural communities in Colorado to depend heavily upon one particular industry for jobs and tax revenue. When the Oxbow coal mines (located near the county lines for Delta and Gunnison) closed, this common dependency became more prevalent. Senator Mark Udall called upon the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration to help Delta and Gunnison County alleviate the potential downfall of this economic disaster and rebuild their economies to be resilient and diversified.

Region 10 and community stakeholders from each county gathered together to create a potential scope of work and grant proposal addressed to the EDA. The proposal outlined the need for detailed market analysis and feasibility studies for potential industries to attract to Delta and Gunnison Counties – all coming from an unbiased, third party. Fortunately, the EDA awarded a substantial grant to the group for these efforts.

Currently, the group has hosted its initial stakeholders meeting in late September. The group will reconvene in October with the goal of releasing a final RFP by mid-October. Region 10 will make certain to do a media blast when the RFP is officially released. However, if you are a consultant who specializes in economic development, please be sure to check region10.net/rfp for the latest updates.

What is unique about this project is that Delta – a predominately agricultural based community – and Gunnison – a tourism hub complete with ski resort and regional university – represent the diversity of Region 10. Ideally, the findings of this study may be replicated in other outlying communities who identify with either Delta or Gunnison based on their unique qualities.

Transit

Region 10 and the Three Rivers Regional Transit Coordinating Council (3RRTCC) released a RFP targeting proposals that would help expand and improve transit services on the Western Slope. In 2013, Region 10 released the “Four County Study Update”, which provides a good amount of detail and analysis about commuter routes and services available. With additional funding secured from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the 3RRTCC wanted to develop a more comprehensive and implementation ready plan that develops cost-effective and creative strategies to broaden transit services. Most importantly, the plan would identify funding mechanisms available to secure these programs.

Region 10 and 3RRTCC originally released the RFP back in June. However, the group decided to revise the scope of the proposal so that it was more closely aligned with CDOT requirements and the needs of various communities.

Michelle Haynes, Executive Director of Region 10, will be presenting information about this transit project during Heidi’s traditional morning talks in November. (Once the date is confirmed, we will update.)

If your community would like more information about any of these projects or for Region 10 to present on them to a larger group, please feel free to contact us at (970) 249-2436.

San Miguel, North Fork, and West End Broadband meetings

San Miguel, North Fork, and West End Broadband meetings
In our previous post, we had a few “TBA” about some upcoming broadband meetings in San Miguel County, the North Fork of Delta County, and the West End of Montrose County. Those details have been finalized, and listed below…
Hotchkiss – Friday, Sept. 26th, 9 am, Town Hall
Paonia – Friday, Sept. 26th, 2 pm, Town Hall
Crawford – Tuesday, Sept. 30th, 10 am, Town Hall
Telluride – Wednesday, Oct. 1st, 1 pm, Miramonte Meeting Room in County building
Naturita – Thursday, Oct. 2nd, 2 pm, Naturita Library
Representatives from anchor institutions are strongly encouraged to attend. If you have any questions, please call 970.249.2436.

Region 10 and NEO Fiber hit the road

Region 10 and NEO Fiber hit the road

In our efforts to improve transparency and promote collaboration, Region 10 and the Broadband Stakeholders Committee are working hard to introduce NEO Fiber — our newly contracted consultant for our region’s broadband implementation efforts — to our various constituencies.

On September 3rd, Region 10 and NEO Fiber travelled to Gunnison to meet with community stakeholders and anchor institutions about broadband needs and capacity. The meeting attracted attendance from both Gunnison and Hinsdale Counties, and brought a diverse group of interests to the same table. With broad representation from higher education, healthcare, private enterprise, and government, the meeting was productive and informative. The goal is to continue these efforts in reaching out to the various communities within the Region 10 territory. A number of future events have been scheduled and we will continue to update this page as new developments occur.

Date Town Time Location Intended Audience
September 8 Montrose 10:00 AM Montrose City Hall Anchor institutions
September 8 Montrose 1:00 PM Montrose City Hall Community members
September 8 Montrose 2:30 PM Montrose City Hall Internet service providers
September 9 Delta 1:00 PM Delta City Hall Anchor institutions
September 9 Cedaredge 4:00 PM Cedaredge Town Hall Anchor institutions
September 26 Hotchkiss 9:00 AM TBD Anchor institutions
September 26 Paonia 2:00 PM TBD Anchor institutions
September 30 Ouray 4:00 PM Ouray Town Hall Anchor institutions
October 1 Telluride 1:00 PM TBD Anchor institutions
October 1 Norwood 4:00 PM TBD Anchor institutions
October 2 Nucla TBD TBD TBD
October 2 Naturita TBD TBD TBD
October 2 Crawford TBD TBD TBD

 

If you are interested in learning more about our broadband efforts, please feel free to call us at (970) 249-2436 or email at jay@region10.net.

Broadband Blueprint: How Region 10 and NEO Fiber are partnering to expand high speed internet

Broadband Blueprint: How Region 10 and NEO Fiber are partnering to expand high speed internet

They are among a handful of companies in the industry with real-world experience in planning, community engagement, design/engineering, business modeling, financing, owning and operating fiber optic, wireless and FTTH networks–and now, they will be working to implement a blueprint for broadband in the six-county area served by Region 10. NEO Fiber, a national company based in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, has been awarded the broadband blueprint implementation project through Region 10, and will begin work immediately with local stakeholders and regional providers.

neo“We see broadband as key to removing economic barriers for our region,” Region 10 Executive Director Michelle Haynes said. “Developing solutions to the broadband issue is essential as we move forward to serve our communities and our regional businesses. We are very pleased to have NEO Fiber on our team–they have worked across the country and have experience in finding different solutions.

“We feel they are the right company to help us in developing a broadband implementation plan and solutions.”

Said NEO Fiber CEO Diane Kruse, “NEO Fiber is thrilled to be working with Region 10 on this effort.  Having access to advanced broadband services is critical for the economic development and growth of this region and has an enormous impact on healthcare, education, utility management, business and government services.  We are big supporters of community and regional collaboration to improve broadband services and look forward to working with the key stakeholders of this region to put forward a plan.”

Region 10 worked with a committee of stakeholders who have helped drive the highly technical process forward, Region 10 Regional Development Coordinator Jay Stooksberry said.

“They helped us to identify the strongest, most comprehensive proposal and the most experienced team,” he said, noting that the regional blueprint is being funded through the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), and should result in greater opportunities for smaller, regional service providers as well. The blueprint will be tailored to the needs of the different counties and municipalities.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach,” Stooksberry said. “NEO Fiber is cognizant of this, and the process will be transparent and flexible as we look at the best options for each of our counties.”

To date, the project has been overseen by a stakeholder committee made up of representatives from Delta, Gunnison, San Miguel and Montrose counties, including Delta City Manager Justin Clifton.

“Bringing on a top-notch, Colorado-based consultant gets us one step closer to having the infrastructure we need for the 21st century economy,” Clifton said. “The fact that we’re doing this as region–working together for a common goal–is even more evidence that things are headed in the right direction.”

The first step for NEO Fiber will be visiting communities throughout the region, to discuss options, meet with local stakeholders and anchor institutions, and maintain open communication, Stooksberry said.  A community meeting on the broadband blueprint has been scheduled at the Montrose City Council Chambers from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 8.

Broadband and transit RFPs issued

Broadband and transit RFPs issued

 

Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning is pleased to announce the issuance of two requests for proposals — one for transit implementation, the other for broadband implementation. Both RFPs are regional in scope and cover six counties — Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Hinsdale, San Miguel, and Ouray. Region 10, in conjunction with countless community stakeholders, is seeking the knowledge and expertise of highly skilled consultants to provide highly detailed implementations plans for these two critical topics — both of which can greatly improve economic development on the Western Slope.

Supported by an Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Fund (EIAF) grant provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the first RFP seeks to address the regional demand for broadband access. As the Western Slope strives to compete economically, the lack of adequate and affordable broadband continues to surface as an impediment for development. A great deal of legwork has already taken place to address this issue. The goal of the implementation plan is to bring all of the key activities, personnel, and organizations together for the sake of developing a level of preparedness to allow the region to move into a final design and construction phase for broadband expansion. The shared goal of the region is to provide abundant, redundant, and affordable internet service to our citizens, businesses, and visitors.

The second RFP seeks to expand upon the recommendations of Region 10’s transit study —  “Four County Study Update” — completed in April 2013. Transit drives economic development; the ability of a workforce to remain mobile within a geographically expansive region enables people to better connect with employment opportunities without complete relocation. A detailed implementation plan will be necessary to connect our communities within the region by expanding existing services and identifying unmet needs. Specific “shovel ready” projects will need to be identified to prepare the region for future expansion and funding.

Piece by piece, Region 10 is striving to work towards the improvement of infrastructure and the expansion of services that allows our communities to compete not only nationally, but globally. These two broad projects represent some of the biggest steps toward a lasting and enduring progress.

For more information on these RFPs, please check out the following link: https://www.region10.net/rfp.

For more information about our current efforts in both broadband and transit, please feel free to contact our office at (970) 249-2436.

 

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