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EDC has new plan to get help from county

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By Ramsey Scott

The Jeffco Economic Development Corp. has received positive feedback on a proposal to partner with the county on an initiative to find real estate that could serve as areas for economic development.

The EDC is seeking a shared-services agreement to identify those properties and work to turn them into potential sites for business expansion. The county would provide an employee to act as a liaison to planning and zoning departments in the county for developers looking to expand in Jeffco.

The proposal, which the county commissioners seemed open to, would also have the county work with the EDC to establish a database of potential commercial land in Jeffco.

Some of that land might not be zoned for commercial uses but could be ideal for hosting economic activity, said the EDC’s president, former county commissioner Kevin McCasky.

“We want to identify and assess all of the opportunities that are throughout Jeffco — top to bottom, incorporated, unincorporated, you name it,” McCasky said. “We have an opportunity to enhance (Jefferson County’s) competitiveness and profile.”

The liaison would work with a real-estate advisory group the EDC has formed with members of the development and banking communities, McCasky said. 

“From us, we’re just really looking for some of the expertise at the county to help with this project …,” EDC vice president Michelle Claymore said. “(We will) be able to look at Jefferson County entirely. We know what’s commercially on the market. What are the opportunities that aren’t the radar on right now that could have higher or better use?”

While all three county commissioners seemed interested in the idea, the county still wants more clarity on what the EDC would expect from its staff.

County Administrator Ralph Schell said assembling the land data should be relatively simple. Yet Schell had concerns about the liaison position, which the EDC proposal called an “ombudsman.”

Schell said when the proposal was presented Jan. 28 that a single county employee would be unlikely to have all-encompassing knowledge of properties, as implied by the term “ombudsman,” or to be able to serve as a representative of municipalities.

Fred Baker, who chaired the board for the EDC in 2013, said most of the work would be done by the real-estate advisory committee, and the “ombudsman” would focus on the interactions between developers and municipal planning.

The EDC last year unsuccessfully proposed that a county worker become a shared employee to act as a liaison between private businesses and Jeffco. The employee would have been trained by the EDC and worked at the EDC’s and the county’s offices while receiving full pay and benefits from Jeffco.

The county is funding the EDC at a level of $300,000 this year.

Contact Ramsey Scott atramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check back atwww.columbinecourier.com for updates.