9-R Wants to Hire Locally for Capital Projects

7/21/2021

As Durango School District 9-R prepares to spend $63 million in capital construction and renovations during the next few years, it's also working with area business development organizations to ensure that local contractors and subcontractors in Southwest Colorado know how to submit bids and land contracts to benefit from the district's investment. Sponsored by FASTSIGNS and The Payroll Department

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Durango School District 9-R wants to make sure that local contractors and subcontractors in Southwest Colorado are prepared to benefit from a $63 million investment in its schools. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Fast Signs of Durango and the Payroll Department. I'm Wendy Graham Settle. When Durango School District 9-R asked voters to approve a $90 million bond referendum last November, it promised to hire as many local contractors and vendors as possible. Now it's making good on its promise by working with the small business development center of Southwest Colorado, and the LA Plata County Economic Development Alliance, to ensure that local businesses have the resources to land and execute a district contract. The initiative is called the 9-R Bond to Business program, and organizers not only hope to keep as much of the bond money as possible in Southwest Colorado, they hope he effort will serve as a business accelerator to give Southwest Colorado contractors the experience they need to pursue more government contracts in the future.

Typically, in a bond, we would contract directly with an architect or a general contractor, and that's the level of the involvement of where we would track that local dollar, and trying to make sure that our dollars are spent locally. With this Bond to Business initiative, what we've done is taken that a step further, to provide training, we've obtained additional capital financing abilities for the subcontractors, and really we're going to do networking events to try to keep as much of the resources that our local taxpayers are putting into this bond within the community.

The beauty of this is that, since it's 9-R and not the federal government, it is kind of a good place for businesses to cut their teeth on contracting. We really want them to try and get involved with this bond, not only because there's money and we want to spend it locally with our local businesses, but because those businesses then will have some demonstrated experience that they can put on their resumes if they want to move up the chain and start looking at contracting with the state or contracting with the federal government. I know that PTAC is really trying to increase the amount of contracting we're doing in Southwest Colorado. So this will allow us to kind of build that capacity and that knowledge with our local business.

The Alliance and the small business development center will coordinate workshops and training sessions with support from the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center, a Denver nonprofit that helps small businesses prepare for government contract work. And to make landing a contract even easier, local contractors will have access to local financing.

We also have partnered with Region 9, First Southwest Community Bank, and the Community Foundation at First Southwest Community Bank. We have developed a capital fund that any contractor that enters into this property will have the capital capability to upscale, uptool or man up to be able to take on this work.

From what we've heard from the team that's doing the bond management, they are saying that they haven't seen this kind of a community organization around a bond, trying to really focus on making sure the money stays local, with our local businesses as much as possible. So we're really proud to be a part of that. That is kind of groundbreaking in a sense, because generally speaking other communities haven't done this, which I mean to me and to Emily, it seems like a no-brainer that we really want to be able to use all of this money as much locally as we can.

The 9-R Bond to Business program defines local as any contractor or vendor within a 70-mile radius from Durango. That includes contractors in the Region 9 economic development district, including Archuleta, LaPlata, Montezuma, Delores, and San Juan counties. The school district will host the first of several business outreach events from 5 to 7:00 PM on Wednesday, August 18th at the LA Plata County Fairgrounds. Bond proceeds will be used to invest in safety and security infrastructure, maintenance and renovations at all the schools, transportation and technology. The district will also spend $45 million to replace Miller Middle School and $10 million to build a new career and technical education center at the high school. If you'd like to know more about the 9-R Bond to Business program, or to follow progress on construction projects, visit DurangoSchools.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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