FREDERICK — Eric Berglund is the numbers guy, and he has good news for those peering into the economic fog: 2012 was a good year for Weld County.
But to see the patterns in the data, Berglund admitted it’s good to have a guide.
Berglund is the president and CEO of Upstate Economic Development, a public-private non-profit economic development corporation that provides services to all of Weld County.
“We’re data rich but information poor,” Berglund said at The Southwest Weld Economic Development Initiative and I-25 Community Forum.
The title of the forum alone might scare off the uninitiated.
“It’s OK, we’re here to act as that translator and say ‘OK, here’s what the data is, and here’s what the data means,’” Berglund said.
Upstate’s mandate, as Berglund stated, is to focus on supporting primary employers — those that bring equity into the local economy by supporting the retail, service and professional sectors.
The good news was delivered to a crowd of equal representation from private and public spheres of the economic community gathered Jan. 25 at D’Agostino’s Restaurant in Frederick.
Berglund described this community as a natural consequence of geography: the economic corridors along Interstate 25 and State Highway 85 working as the strands pulling together the larger communities of Denver and Greeley.
But he credited good governance as well.
“But it helps to attract business interest when you have a county like Weld County, which has no sales tax and no government debt,” Berglund said.
Berglund said during the 2012 calendar year, 15 new or expanding companies created 1,867 new jobs.
The jobs are only part of the investment in the county; the collective investment in the county includes $121 million in facilities and equipment.
Upstate’s achievements of the year, according to Berglund, included an open-minded approach to the growing energy sector in the county and regionally.
Last year, Upstate brought out the SmartEnergy Project, which helped market the opening of four public compressed-natural gas stations in the Weld County.
This effort was paired with the hunt for investors at larger conferences. At the Windpower 2012 conference in Denver, which Upstate co-hosted, resulted in three live projects in Weld County in the alternative energy sector.
“It’s important for us to be in front of them — the possible investor — so they think of Weld County and our communities,” Berglund said.
And this engagement with the investment community is yielding the precious stones of economic development world: good leads.
“And when we get those leads, we pass them on to our partners in the community,” Berglund said. “We’re governed by a 13-member board of directors, and of that board, seven are members of the private sector and six from the public sector.”
Although the forum went on to dissect the nuances of an annual report, Berglund reminded the crowd that the updates from Upstate are monthly.
“We meet here on the fourth Friday of each month,” Berglund said. “And we encourage you all to bring your questions to future meetings.”