County Administration reorganizes top goal is economic development

February 8, 2011

In mid-January, selected members of the leadership team met for three days with the new Board of County Commissioners that includes Tom Jankovsky, who replaced Tresi Houpt on the board. We covered a vast array of topics, but central to all the discussions was a need for change in our overall focus. At this point, I think it is important for us to go back a dozen years and review the evolution of our current focus. When I first arrived at the county 12 years ago, the commissioners made it clear that they wanted the county to become an organization that was professionally run, had modern information systems and work processes, and was able to accumulate wealth. We made great progress on that over the last twelve years. However, about 5 years ago, the board asked that we shift our focus to assuring that we could provide exemplary customer service in all areas of our work. Similarly, we have made great progress in this area as well.

Although the commissioners still see service as our top priority, this concept needs to morph into a challenge that is truly outside the bounds of our organization. The commissioners recognize that our communities and our residents are hurting as a result of the economic downturn. Oil and gas activities have decreased as has tourism. Construction has become virtually non-existent. The commissioners want to devote the next couple of years to initiatives that will help us add jobs in the county. This can come from two areas. First, we need to do everything we can to encourage existing businesses to succeed and to expand. That includes the oil and gas industry. Second, we need to search for opportunities to encourage businesses to relocate to our area. Neither of these initiatives are “30 minute sitcoms.” It will take months and years of effort to see measurable results. And it will mean that some of us will have to shift our focus principally to this objective and others of us will have to “fill the breach.”

As a result of this significant change in focus, we are changing the structure of the organization to allow for increased attention to economic development in some key areas. First, we are combining Building and Planning and the Oil and Gas Liaison Office into one organization. This will allow for us to concentrate all land use issues in one organization and will also facilitate the restructuring of our land use regulations to be more inviting to prospective businesses, whether those are involved in oil and gas exploration or in other venues. Fred Jarman will head this organization, and Judy Jordan will become an integral part of Building and Planning, focusing on oil and gas issues and fulfilling the role of local government designee for oil and gas issues.

Dale Hancock will become the Assistant County Manager, and his responsibilities will be trimmed and focused on a few key areas. First, he will continue to be the lead for public relations, and Renelle Lott, (currently in I.T.), will be reporting to him to assist in the dissemination of public information. Dale will also be responsible for intergovernmental relations. He will continue to oversee the airport and community corrections. However, the big change in Dale’s responsibilities will be a dramatic increase in activities associated with economic development. We are going to vigorously pursue opportunities for businesses to relocate to our county and do everything we can to encourage them to become a part of our communities. This will involve a commitment on the part of the county and its communities to offer incentives to prospective businesses and to pave the way for relocation by providing land, infrastructure, and streamlined approvals for construction of facilities. Dale will coordinate all these efforts and his role as coordinator of intergovernmental relations will allow him to negotiate agreements with communities to capture new businesses. Whenever possible, I will assist Dale in this important endeavor.

— Ed Green, County Manager, Garfield County

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