I am excited to write an column for the launch of the Montrose Business Times.
I wanted to start by sharing information about our organization in an effort to give our Montrose citizens a better understanding of who MEDC is and what we do. Our goal is to provide periodic articles that feature companies that we have worked with and various projects that we are involved in, focusing on the value that these efforts bring to our community and the region.
Montrose Economic Development Corporation, (MEDC) is a nonprofit organization that is funded by private businesses and local governments. We are governed by a board of 12 elected members selected from our investors and seven appointed members from our government, educational institutions, and agriculture sector.
MEDC was founded in 1957 with a mission to diversify the industry in Montrose by adding to our farming, ranching, and mining base in order to strengthen our economy for the future.
The first action taken by our forefathers was to purchase 95 acres of land west of the railroad and east of the river, that was then set aside to attract new types of businesses to Montrose. The first company to locate within this parcel was Western Area Power Administration, (WAPA), in 1961. Companies such as TEI Rock Drills (1988) and Tri-State GT&E have also located on portions of that land.
Over the years, MEDC has created three additional business parks. These parks were developed with help from both the City and County of Montrose through Community Development Block Grants, (CDBG) which provided funding for the infrastructure. Tins funding was allowed because the land, which was owned by MEDC, would be used to create ‘Primary Jobs” and each park would provide a location for multiple companies. A primary job is one where the goods and services are sent outside of the area therefore bringing new money into the community to support local businesses and local services. Many of the companies who have located here over the last 66 years market their products not only diroughout the USA, but around the world. We will explore many of these companies in future articles.
Primary jobs come in various forms. Our original employment base of farming, ranching, and mining was indeed considered a primary industry. Today what has been added are jobs in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing companies, on average, pay higher wages and most often come with benefits. They create career opportunities for our young people who desire to remain in Montrose.
MEDC has also worked with primary employers who have located to or expanded within Montrose on sites that are outside of the developed parks. Russell Stover Chocolates, (RSC), is a perfect example. In 1972, MEDC purchased the 25 acres of land that RSC built their factory on. We deeded the land to the City of Montrose who in turn leased it to RSC for $100 per year. Ihis created an incentive that brought them to Montrose where they built their plant and started production. For 50 years, RSC employed between 300-600 individuals. Those jobs included benefits. In addition, they purchased local products for their candies and hired local service providers for some of their maintenance needs. This economic development effort tremendously impacted our Montrose community. As everyone is aware, RSC closed the Montrose plant in 2020. MEDC oversaw the shutdown of the plant and worked closely with the new buyers through their due diligence process. Currently we are the local contact working with potential companies who are considering purchasing the plant. When we have a prospect that is ready to move forward, we will collaborate with our local partners to put a great deal together to bring the project to fruition.
This is a brief look into the history and workings of MEDC. Please watch for future articles that highlight our local companies and our economic development activities as we strive to bring you a better understanding of what we do and how the community benefits.