MONTE VISTA— During the regular monthly meeting of Upper Rio Grande Economic Development (URGED) members were pleased to hear a presentation from Action 22 President Sarah Blackhurst.
Blackhurst opened her presentation by stating that she was brought on as the president for Action 22, an organization that focuses on issues that directly impact rural Colorado and aids in getting measures passed through the senate that can benefit southern Colorado, in June of 2017.
“This has been a struggle for me from the beginning because when I was brought on as the president, there was a lot of things that needed to be done to reorganize this group and a lot of tough questions that needed to be asked in order to make sure that we were headed in the right direction. I am very good at asking these hard questions and have been able to work with the board to secure an outcome we are happy with,” said Blackhurst.
One of the main focuses for the organization in the past year was to help bring broadband to rural communities and to get the right people at the table to discuss the issues facing rural communities in southern Colorado. “We looked at the need for broadband in places like the Valley and decided to host a summit that brought many of the people together that could make this a reality. I am pleased to say that within about a week of the summit, both pieces of legislature for broadband in rural communities in southern Colorado were passed through the house,” said Blackhurst.
The next project for Action 22 was to look at all of the amendments and measures that are up for consideration in November and choose the ones that were important for rural communities in Southern Colorado. “There are 13 legislative topics that are up for consideration and after several discussions, Action 22 has chosen to support or oppose eight of them. One that has gained most of our attention that affects the Valley directly is Amendment X, changing the definition of industrial hemp,” explained Blackhurst.
“I would not have known the need for Amendment X here in the Valley if I had not taken the time to come here and speak with organizations like the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development. This topic is huge for economic growth in the Valley for places like Del Norte and Alamosa. Action 22 views this measure as an important step in protecting the economic interests of those in rural Colorado who are exploring investment in industrial hemp.”
Another measure that was discussed in detail during the meeting was in regards to Proposition 112. Blackhurst explained that the proposition is not in the best interest of Colorado as a state and would directly impact rural communities in the Valley by driving the prices of oil, gas and electricity through the roof.
“We in Colorado are the example of what the rest of the country needs to follow. Our state regulations have kept our prices lower than any other state and Proposition 112 would do nothing but hurt our state. In the only unanimous vote, the Action 22 board adamantly opposes Proposition 112. Action 22 does not see Proposition 112 as an effective environmental measure, but rather as economically devastating for the entire state. We agree, if passed, that it would not only cost thousands of jobs, but it would cost billions in actual economic impact.”
Blackhurst finished her presentation by inviting URGED to consider up to two members to represent the Valley on the Action 22 board. “We want to hear from you. We want to hear about the issues that you face on a day-to-day basis and in order to do that properly, we need you to represent the Valley on our board. We ask that you get in contact with us and keep us up-to-date on the issues you face here.”