The town of Mancos has a few new members on its team, including one who will focus on helping businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Josh Martin has been retained as the town’s new building inspector, and Rachael Marchbanks will be the economic development coordinator. The latter position was approved by the board last year, and Town Administrator Heather Alvarez said staff moved forward with the part-time position because of its immediate need.
“I feel it’s an essential service,” she said. “Our businesses especially in Mancos are going to need some extra guidance and hand-holding to wade through the volumes of information that are being released so quickly.”
Both positions are contractual.
The job description for the economic position originally focused on growing the local economy, but now the coordinator will focus on business recovery, Alvarez said.
Marchbanks previously served as mayor of Mancos and publisher of the Tribal College Journal.
“We’re very lucky to have her combination of private business knowledge and government knowledge,” Alvarez said.
Marchbanks said she “hit the ground running” when she started the job about a week ago.
“I’ve been starting to reach out to local businesses by phone to see how they are doing and what their needs may be in order to keep running,” she said. “Or, if they are currently shut down, what information and resources do they need so that they can safely open back up for business.”
Marchbanks also is working with Region 9 Economic Development District and the Tri-City Chambers of Commerce, which includes the Mancos, Dolores and Cortez chambers and is creating a small business “toolkit” with resources and links.
“I’d also like to help connect businesses with some additional online networking, education and training opportunities,” Marchbanks said. “We are encouraging folks to please continue patronizing local businesses as much as possible. That money will stay in the community longer than if it’s spent online.”
They’re looking to create an outdoor marketplace to allow businesses to sell wares in a socially distanced way, along with supporting local agriculture and reinstituting “cash mobs.”
“Eventually, I hope to help businesses expand day-to-day shopping opportunities and services for area residents, build on Mancos’s business clusters and encourage opportunities that will allow businesses to make products locally that can be sold or exported,” Marchbanks said.
Because Mancos is a statutory town, its sales tax is collected by the state, and staff won’t have data from April’s sales tax revenue – and an idea of the pandemic’s impact – until June. But it will be significant, Alvarez said: As a line item in the town’s budget, sales tax revenue makes up over 60% of the town’s general fund revenue.
“We are definitely going to need to help those businesses,” Alvarez said. “Not just because the businesses are the lifeblood.” Local businesses have been stepping up to the plate in handling the COVID-19 situation, she said.
The building inspector job opened up in November after Holly Rankin retired. The town advertised a few months for the job and received a bid from a company in Arizona, but it was too high, Alvarez said.
Martin has owned a construction business for the past eight years.
“He’s going to be an awesome fit, because he’s done business in Mancos for eight years,” Alvarez said.
The town is helping him to get certified as a building official in coming months.