“I’m ecstatic we have brought on so many new members in the last year,”said Mike Bordogna, executive director of the Leadville Lake County Economic Development Corporation, at the organization’s annual community update last week. The LLCEDC now includes 58 member organizations, 15 of which were added in the last year. “2017 was a year of transition and rebuilding for the EDC,” said Bordogna who took over the organization last April.
Throughout last year, the LLCEDC’s work centered around: business assistance, improving local business climate, developing infrastructure and assisting with property development. The organization’s free, confidential business mentoring program, SCORE, continues to assist entrepreneurs. The LLCEDC also created packets on human resources and access to capital for local businesses, as well as kits for developers on local land use, demographic information, permitting and more. An ever-changing business location database is also maintained by the LLCEDC. The database identifies potential commercial land and buildings for entrepreneurs and developers.
The LLCEDC spends most of its time talking to investors investigating Lake County’s potential, Bordogna reminded the audience. “It’s basically a developer/investor concierge service,” he said. Providing services to members is equally important to the LLCEDC. In 2018, the nonprofit launched its business retention and expansion surveys. Bordogna has already interviewed 16 local businesses, identifying the different roadblocks and needs of businesses. Workshops on emergency preparedness, taxes/accounting, money for businesses and social media/internet marketing will be offered throughout the remainder of the year.
A downtown public Wi-Fi network is also on the table for the LLCEDC this spring. Bordogna continues to assist the Lake County Watershed Advisory Council in setting up a water enterprise and is working towards establishing an industrial park by the Lake County Airport.
Locals were also awarded for outstanding economic contributions to Lake County throughout the event.
Leadville Mayor Greg Labbe was recognized for his dedication to diversifying the city’s economy. “Greg takes the brighter path not the path of least resistance,” Keith Moffat, LLCEDC board president, told the crowd. Christine Street and Eric Wupperman were acknowledged for bringing high-class dining to Leadville.
“Treeline Kitchen has set the bar high for Leadville’s restaurant industry,” Moffat said. Stephanie Spong was awarded for her dedication to the Tabor Opera House’s restoration. High Mountain Institute’s head of school, Danny O’Brien, was recognized for raising the bar for outdoor education. Pointing to several local leaders in the room who attended HMI in decades past, O’Brien said his goal is for HMI to be “a catalyst for what young people can do beyond high school.”
The LLCEDC also presented its inaugural lifetime achievement award to Full Circle Executive Director Alice Pugh. When Pugh started Full Circle in 1991, Lake County’s tax base had fallen from $264,000,000 to $44,000,000, Bordogna said. Over the last 27 years, Pugh’s organization has served over 6,000 students and 2,500 parents.
Wendy Wyman, guest speaker and superintendant of the Lake County School District, presented on LCSD’s recent successes. The stability and vitality of the school district and local economy are intertwined, Wyman noted. “Healthy schools contribute to people staying here to work,” she said.
For any local businesses interested in joining the LLCEDC, the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation will pay half of new membership fees for the associate and general levels, up to $2,500, through the end of June.