PUEBLO, Colo. - Economic developers say they're not worried about an unflattering jobs report from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment because they're doing the best they can to create jobs.
According to the report, every city along the Front Range except Pueblo is experiencing strong job growth.
Stephen Wright, chairman of the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, said Pueblo created 448 jobs last year -- the best it can do in the current economic climate, he said.
"Right now, we're stagnant," Wright said. "We understand that. The thing I have to make sure that everyone understands, is where would we be if we weren't doing what we're supposed to be doing?"
Wright said on Friday, PEDCO was courting two employers -- one who's considering expanding an existing business, and another who may bring a company to town. He said both could create as many as 125 jobs in town.
"Currently, we're working with eight companies, maybe seven, with a total of about 1,100 possible jobs," he said. "We understand we're not going to get all those. But we're working with them. What we do is very difficult, and it takes a lot of time."
As an example, Wright said PEDCO has been in talks with one employer for the past five years.
Pueblo has created 15,000 jobs since 1980, he said, but has lost more than half those jobs since.
"Companies come and go all the time for a variety of reasons," Wright said. "We have a manufacturing base, but we're seeking a range of jobs. The Professional Bull Riders headquarters is an example of that."
Wright said Pueblo has a pool of $40 million provided by a special tax from citizens to encourage existing businesses to expand, and to attract new businesses.
A greater variety of jobs might help people like Lee Taylor, who moved to Pueblo a year ago and still hasn't found a satisfactory full-time job. He was at the Pueblo Workforce Center to check on the latest openings.
"I left Las Vegas making $18 an hour," he said. "I'm not making half that now. But I know there's an opportunity out there for me. My fiancee and I have a 2-year-old son and are expecting another child, so I'm going to keep looking."