LOVELAND – With little debate but plenty of praise for the city staffers who put it together, the Loveland City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved strategic plans that will guide both the city’s own economic-development strategy and that of the tourism-oriented Visit Loveland through 2027.
The 8-0 vote to endorse the 2023-27 Economic Development Strategic Plan and the 2022-27 Visit Loveland Strategic Plan also included approval of Loveland’s Business Assistance/Incentive Policy. With only minor changes and additions, the plans basically reflect strategies the city already has pursued, which drew praise from City Council members.
Although Economic Development Director Kelly Jones noted the term “incentives” left an unsavory taste for some, she touted their success in bringing some major businesses to Loveland.
Councilor Patrick McFall responded that “I think you should tout more of the small-business incentives you’re giving,” rather than just the major employers lured to the city.
The policies outlined in the strategic plan were developed based on the results of surveys conducted by the economic-development team and Visit Loveland. They also reflect and direction provided by a business stakeholder working group and input received at a community town hall.
Visit Loveland’s five-year strategy was developed by the Community Marketing Commission at an all-day retreat April 23, and its marketing team reminded the city council on Tuesday night that “tourism is our cleanest dollar.”
Mayor Pro Tem Don Overcash specifically thanked the economic-development team for its involvement with Northern Colorado Regional Airport. “There’s some big tasks out there,” he noted, “but a big opportunity to create a transportation-educational hub.”
Consideration of the plans started more than an hour and 15 minutes later than scheduled, in the wake of a prolonged and often heated and emotional debate about a final report from the city’s 15-member ad-hoc Community Trust Commission, which was formed by the council last year in the wake of the violent arrest of 73-year-old Karen Garner in 2020. That incident led to criminal convictions of two Loveland police officers and a $3 million payment to Garner’s family to settle their civil lawsuit against the city.
While Mayor Jacki Marsh and Councilor Andrea Samson endorsed the panel’s recommendations, other council members were skeptical about its proposed code of ethics. The council eventually rejected a motion to direct City Manager Steve Adams’ office to study how to implement the commission’s recommendations.