Colorado Economic Recovery and Accountability

Elaine Johnson

Elaine Johnson



Elaine Johnson


“It really is improving the quality of life in our small town.”

 

The Recovery Act is giving the small town of Crestone a big step up. The Saguache County town is growing but lacks commercial sites like a Laundromat and hardware store. Residents often must drive about 50 miles to shop and eat out.

At the turn of the 20th century, Elaine Johnson’s grandfather opened the first Crestone Mercantile store in town, which later closed. Today, Johnson is overseeing a new commercial project that will open a new Crestone Mercantile, a large-scale grocery store down the street from the first store with that name.

The project will also create the only Laundromat in the county, a diner, lumber yard and hardware store. The stores are being built with a loan that was guaranteed by Recovery Act funds. Businesses have been struggling to secure loans since the start of the recession, so the builders, MJ Investments, were very grateful to receive a $796,000 loan from First Southwest Bank in the San Luis Valley.

Johnson said she and the other owners will save thousands of dollars from lower fees because of the Recovery Act. Once the businesses are open, they expect to hire 22 full-time employees.

The commercial project will benefit the community on several levels. First are the new jobs.

“We are creating 22 jobs in a community with very high unemployment,” Johnson said.

Second are the tax revenue that will be generated. And third is the environmental benefits of less driving to other towns for shopping.

“What it does for this very small town is it makes us a sustainable community,” Johnson said.

The grocery store is expected to open in May 2010, with the other stores opening later.

“It really is improving the quality of life in our small town.”

 


 

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