Although the Fremont Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) has been in existence for thirty-two years, it has taken significant strides over the last few years to market the county’s natural assets and ensure it is equipped with the tools and resources necessary for economic development and success.
Fremont County is a safe, family-friendly community with an excellent quality of life and a focus on targeted development to maintain the county’s unique character and charm as it grows. The Fremont Economic Development Corporation is a uniting force that brings together different community stakeholders to ensure that economic and community development is a collective effort. It consolidates resources by bringing together businesses, not-for-profit organizations, local chambers of commerce and the various local governments to market the small, yet formidable, community as a great place to live and do business.
The primary mission and vision of the FEDC is job creation, though it has undertaken many other responsibilities to uphold to secure the economic health and wellbeing of the community as a whole. “We’ve really become more of a community-minded organization, trying to take on other tasks, and we have certainly expanded our focus,” said Executive Director Rob Brown.
In 2013, FEDC underwent an organizational adjustment to accommodate the new circumstances that resulted from the changing global economy. While it had emerged from the preceding period of economic challenges successfully, changes needed to be made. The corporation hosted a local economic summit and brought the community together. The purpose was to understand better how, as an organization, it could best serve the community and its economy moving forward.
The will of the citizens was for the organization to become a stronger component of the community and balance economic development with social wellbeing.
“Our community asked us to play a larger role in the business retention side, a larger role with interfacing and managing projects with local government agencies – areas that were underserved in our community,” explained Brown.
The membership of FEDC operates on four membership levels and is comprised of several local banks, real estate agencies, manufacturers and other small businesses. In 2014, FEDC, to bolster membership, undertook a membership drive to mobilize the community. It proved the benefits of membership in the organization and explained the value it brings to the local community and economy.
Fremont County is a relatively small community with a population of only 47,000 people. However, it has a lot to offer those who live in, work in, invest in or visit the area. It provides a great quality of life via a variety of education, economic, leisure and recreation opportunities
Proudly small, FEDC is nonetheless able to mobilize the community and its members rapidly. Its quick response team reacts to the demands of local and potential businesses, removing obstacles and creating incentive programs to result in project success.
FEDC has started to build momentum with regard to community economic development, and that has resulted in a change of attitude, vision and policy. Through its strong representation of the local community, FEDC has developed its capacities and marketed them in such a way that emphasizes Fremont County’s strengths.
Fremont County is centrally located for easy and efficient travel, with access to the entire state and beyond from Colorado State Highway 50. Only one hundred miles from Denver, forty-five miles southwest of Colorado Springs and thirty-five miles west of Pueblo, Fremont County is located along the Arkansas River, which spans the entire sixty-mile length of the county.
The county is quite an attractive destination with the Arkansas River and its location and elevation in Colorado. Fremont County is home to Cañon City, known as ‘The Climate Capital of Colorado’ for its pleasant year round weather, which makes it the perfect candidate for an array of outdoor activities. If you lead an active lifestyle and want access to the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventure, Fremont County is a great place to visit or call home.
“We are one of the most premiere locations in the state of Colorado for outdoor adventure,” stated Brown. From events and festivals to wine tasting at a local winery or any number of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, fishing, camping and white water rafting, there is no shortage of leisure and recreation opportunities. Fremont County is also home to Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, which brought 1.6 million visitors to the region last year alone.
Fremont County enjoys a rather broad economic composition, as it is home to manufacturing, a wealth of services and a vibrant and robust tourism industry. Holcim Industries is the largest cement manufacturer in the United States and is one of the many local economic success stories.
With the low cost of living and doing business in Fremont County, it is an ideal location for any industry or sector. There are a number of undeveloped land opportunities with the added benefits of affordable real estate, Colorado’s low sales tax, the support of the local community and the initiatives of FEDC.
“In terms of growth, we certainly aspire to be even more diverse and attract people that are interested in higher tech industries, the energy industry – areas that will demonstrate some significant growth opportunities not just in our community, but on a more global scale,” said Brown of FEDC efforts. The corporation works in partnership with the local, county and state governments to attract these growing businesses.
There is a very strong entrepreneurial spirit in Fremont County. This paired with its sense of volunteerism makes the county welcoming and one of a kind. In addition to competitive labor rates and an available workforce, the population of Fremont County enjoys a nationally recognized education system, including a community college to help support workforce development in the area.
Building on the successes experienced in 2013 and 2014, FEDC’s primary goal in 2015 is called ‘Connections 2015’ and aims to connect all of the various community resources, the volunteers and participating businesses and organizations to showcase the area’s assets.
“Our goal is to connect them together so we have a common voice and a common face outside of the community,” Brown explained. “That’s really a big part of what we are trying to accomplish, and when we have an opportunity, we want to be able to mobilize quickly and bring a great display of our capacity to the project immediately, so Connections 2015 is a program to accomplish that goal.”
Connections 2015 also serves as a lead generating opportunity for FEDC, entertaining individuals, businesses and industries that are interested in expansion or relocation or start-up in Fremont County. , continuing to market and attract investment to the community, creating opportunities for residents in the process. In the long term, FEDC has the goal of adding 500 additional jobs over five years.
“The number one rule in economic development is that you have to add something to the mix. You have to add people. You have to add resources. You have to add capital. You have to add creativity in order to grow,” Brown concluded. Fremont County has emerged from a turbulent economic period, differentiating itself as an attractive and economically viable community.
The corporation is committed to the process of education and marketing to make the area’s unique assets and character known, both inside and outside the community. The FEDC understands that economic development and job creation is an ongoing process as it works to translate opportunities into economic and community successes.
“Fremont County and our community has a very welcoming small town atmosphere where you are directly connected to the community. As opposed to a larger area where you are probably looked at as just one of the many, in Fremont County you are processed as one of the very most important,” Brown explained.
With the collective goal of balanced growth, Fremont County and FEDC have undertaken a number of initiatives to stimulate the community and the economy and attract investment. Drawing on its sense of community, volunteerism and entrepreneurial spirit while highlighting the county’s natural assets, FEDC and Fremont County have solidified relationships and laid the groundwork for a bright and prosperous future.