Small-business owner frustrated that tax dollars help her competition

PEDCO: 'Never intended for this to happen'

Small-business owner frustrated tax dollars help competitor

PUEBLO, Colo. - A small-business owner doesn't understand why her tax dollars are helping her competition.

The Pueblo Economic Development Coproration (PEDCO), the city's biggest job recruiter, spent $545,000 last year to bring Dubworks, a woodworking and milling company, to Pueblo.

During the negotiations, PEDCO contacted Quality Custom Woodwork, a local small business in Pueblo, that does a similar kind of work as Dubworks.

Cherri Bucciarelli, owner of Quality Custom Woodwork, said PEDCO president Jack Rink assured her that Dubworks would not be competing for bids in Pueblo.

But Bucciarelli said the opposite happened; she was recently underbid and lost business to Dubworks.

"I do not want this happening to another company. I mean, Pueblo is full of small businesses," Bucciarelli said.

PEDCO board chairman Steve Wright said Dubworks and PEDCO reached a verbal agreement that Dubworks would not compete in Pueblo but that agreement was not put in writing.

PEDCO makes recommendations to Pueblo City Council about how money collected through the city's half-cent sales tax should be spent. KRDO-TV asked Pueblo City Council President Sandy Daff if it was acceptable for the city and PEDCO to reach verbal agreements that are not in writing.

"Do I think that verbal agreements are acceptable? No. We need to have agreements in writing," Daff said.

Wright said PEDCO doesn't intend to hurt small businesses while recruiting outside companies to Pueblo.

"We go to great lengths to make sure that companies that relocate or expand here do not compete with local companies. In this case, we thought we had the solution. We never intended for this to happen," he said.

KRDO-TV repeatedly tried to contact Dubworks President and Chief Executive Officer Jake West. Dubworks said it had no comment.

Wright said PEDCO is working on a solution. As for city council, Daff said if council needs to mediate, it will.

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