Representatives from the El Pomar Foundation were at Otero Junior College this week to make a $15,000 presentation of grant funds toward the Microenterprise Development Center in Crowley County, a joint endeavor by the Crowley County Economic Board and Otero Junior College.
According to Brittney Moore, a fellow with the El Pomar Foundation, the project aligns with the vision and goals of El Pomar’s Southeast Council.
“The Microenterprise Development Center in Crowley County has been identified as an outstanding example of community collaboration and economic development in southeastern Colorado. El Pomar’s Southeast Council felt like the project aligned with their visions and goals and was pleased to make this award to a very important endeavor,” said Moore.
El Pomar’s Southeast Council, an advisory board of six community leaders representing nine counties in southeastern Colorado, chose to award $15,000 to the Microenterprise Development Center project to assist with the demolition and renovation of a local storefront in Crowley County that will become the Microenterprise Development Center. The building is located in the former Opera House Pharmacy building on the corner of 3rd and Main in Ordway.
El Pomar’s Southeast Council members, who reside in the area, include: Rachel Wallace of Rocky Ford and The Honorable Ken Kester of Las Animas. Wallace and Kester played an important role in promoting the importance of the project and securing the grant funding from El Pomar’s Southeast Council.
The Microenterprise Development Center in Crowley County is a project made possible by a grant Otero Junior College received from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for $600,000 last September. The grant award was made on behalf of HUD’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities program (HSIAC). OJC was one of 11 colleges in the nation to be awarded a HUD HSIAC grant. OJC is recognized by the Department of Education as meeting the statutory definition of a Hispanic-Serving Institution.
According to Teri Erickson, director of Resource Development at OJC, the total grant funds committed by HUD will be matched with other funding and in-kind support to bring the total project cost to an estimated $1,136,727. Erickson, the grant writer on this project, said that Microenterprise Development Center will be a one-stop facility designed to increase business and housing opportunities in Crowley County.
“The specifics of the project will include renovating a building in Ordway to house the facility as well as implementing services designed to increase business and housing opportunities in the county,” said Erickson. “The center will help residents of this underserved area of southeastern Colorado achieve success in business start-up, continuation and expansion through a series of services including one-on-one counseling, group workshops and shared work space. There will also be a housing component to educate residents about fair housing and provide opportunities to build new housing or rehabilitate existing homes,” said Erickson.
On behalf of Crowley County, Commissioner Tobe Allumbaugh expressed his appreciation to OJC for securing the funding to help improve the economy of Crowley County and to the El Pomar Foundation for their support with matching funds.
“The commissioners are thrilled to be able to establish a Microenterprise Center in Crowley County. We have all wrestled with a very cloudy economic environment the past few years. This project provides a glimmer of hope for a positive change,” said Allumbaugh.
In addition to the El Pomar Foundation and the Crowley County commissioners, other partners with OJC on the grant include the Small Business Development Center, Tri-County Housing and Community Development Corporation and the Crowley County Chamber of Commerce. The partners will primarily provide in-kind support for the project. The full scope of the project is expected to be completed over a three year time period. It is anticipated that the building will be completed by spring 2012 with services being offered at that time.