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Council Member Spotlights: Kathy Woods, Trae Miller, and Wendell Pryor

By Matthew Telles and Seth Lindsey
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In October, Regional Fellows interviewed a Regional Council Member in each of our featured regions to learn more about their unique work in economic development: San Luis Valley Regional Council Member Kathy Woods, Economic Development Director for the City of Alamosa; Northeast Regional Council Member, Trae Miller, Executive Director of the Logan County Economic Development Corporation; and Central Peaks Regional Council Member Wendell Pryor, former Executive Director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation.

 

San Luis Valley Regional Council Member Kathy Woods:

In 2019, Kathy Woods became Economic Development Director for the City of Alamosa following her combined twelve years of service on Alamosa City Council and as Mayor. Kathy’s journey into this role was motivated by the community’s need for a dedicated economic development leader. Many factors support Kathy in this role including her deep-rooted commitment to community, combined with her extensive background in public service and business.

According to Kathy, the integral elements in impactful economic development include engaging local leadership, maintaining a supportive business environment, and being actively present in community events and activities. Alamosa’s size and its close-knit nature allow Kathy to connect more personally with residents and entrepreneurs, fostering a sense of trust and collaboration.

Alamosa is working on several exciting initiatives including a new outdoor gear manufacturing facility that will provide new jobs and opportunities for the workforce, as well as housing development projects to address the housing shortage and attract new residents. Kathy and her team are actively seeking to attract more retail businesses and services to increase the number of residents shopping locally.

Kathy’s passion for economic development is rooted in her “servant’s attitude” when working with the businesses and people of Alamosa. Her holistic approach to economic development includes supporting existing businesses, fostering relationships, and proactively addressing community needs. Her dedication to facilitating collaboration and economic growth in Alamosa is evident in her enthusiasm and her personal interactions in the community.

 

Northeast Regional Council Member Trae Miller:

In 2015, Trae Miller was named Executive Director of the Logan County Economic Development Corporation (LCEDC), a nonprofit formed to expand the economic base of Logan County. As a 5th generation Logan County native, Trae’s deep family history, network of valued community connections, and desire to raise his family in rural Northeast Colorado inspired him to support the community in which he was raised.

A current focus of his work is recruiting and maintaining the workforce in Logan County due to the many challenges in attracting people to live and work in rural communities. Trae’s own experience, having grown up in Sterling then moving away to urban areas before returning back to the region to raise his family, informs his efforts to enhance the region’s workforce development. Trae supports initiatives that attract people to live, work, and find community in Logan County. One example is The Annex, a co-working facility in Sterling run by the LCEDC and its local partners, which was formed to build community and workforce connections. The space enables individuals to make in-person connections while also providing essential resources for remote employees and startup businesses, like high-speed internet access which is integral to facilitating work in a rural community.

Trae is excited about the upcoming economic development initiatives coming to Logan County. With several multimillion-dollar projects in process, including a senior housing project, Sterling Ethanol carbon sequestration, and the expansion of Northeastern Junior College’s Applied Technology Campus, there is abundant opportunity for growth within the county and region.

 

Central Peaks Regional Council Member Wendell Pryor:

In 2009, Wendell Pryor was appointed as the founding Executive Director of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC).  Wendell’s early years in the role focused on identifying and addressing pressing issues, including the urgent need for high-speed and reliable internet connectivity in Chaffee County. To tackle this issue, the board of CCEDEC played a crucial role in establishing Colorado Central Telecom, which later became Aristata, effectively laying the groundwork for improved internet access in the region.

CCEDC’s introduction of broadband internet to Chaffee County had far-reaching effects, including the expansion of Mt. Princeton Hot Springs into a world-class destination resort and the creation of Fading West, a company employing over 100 individuals in the construction of factory-built houses. High-speed internet also enabled advancements in payment systems, ensuring businesses could thrive in a tourism-driven economy.

Throughout his tenure, Wendell demonstrated the importance of a strong relationship between the CCEDC’s board and the state government. Projects that benefited from the partnerships was the completion of a forty-eight-unit affordable housing project in Buena Vista as well as the successful authorization of a mill levy that attracted Colorado Mountain College to Chaffee County, providing a significant educational partner for economic and workforce development.

Wendell’s enthusiasm and commitment to advancing economic development has left Chaffee County in an exciting phase of growth. Since stepping down from this role in 2021, Wendell has continued to share the values of proactive leadership, community engagement, and adaptability by promoting economic growth and prosperity in rural regions.

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