Silverthorne working with consultant to lobby funding for Exit 205, other town projects
The town of Silverthorne will soon be working with Sustainable Strategies DC, a government affairs and strategic consulting firm, to lobby for grant funding to go toward the Interstate 70 Exit 205 project.
At the council’s Oct. 27 work session, firm principal Ashley Badesch came to speak to council about the services they could provide the town. She said they specialize in helping small communities get resources from federal, state and sometimes philanthropic grant sources.
“We begrudgingly know that (reconstructing) Exit 205 is probably not going to happen without some of our involvement on lobbying and probably grant writing,” Town Manager Ryan Hyland said at the work session.
Badesch said Sustainable Strategies does all of the back-end work to get together grant applications for the town. This includes fully drafting the narratives in the application, all required attachments and support letter templates for stakeholders.
After submitting applications, Badesch said the firm works on advocacy, as well. She said while not every grant will require this, larger transportation grants likely would. This can include taking a team from Silverthorne to Washington D.C. to sit down and meet with stakeholders to build familiarity.
The firm will meet regularly with town staff to go through its funding priorities and to continuously check in on the latest opportunities available. While Exit 205 is the main reason Silverthorne is interested in working with the firm, it could help find funding for anything the town might need.
“I understand the top priority is cracking the nut on Exit 205, and that project will likely take the leveraging of several different resources,” Badesch said. “… But I also think that having the opportunity to work on some of the other projects like parks and affordable housing and whatever your other top priorities might be, this is the time in terms of the amount of funding we’ll be seeing in the next four years. It’s pretty unprecedented.”
Council member Mike Spry asked how things change when they are trying to get a grant package versus working with people to get a project built into their priority funding. Badesch said for a big project like Exit 205, they’ll definitely be looking at more than just grant funding, and that they’ll come up with a plan to balance grant writing with political advocacy.
Council member Kevin McDonald asked how the Colorado Department of Transportation might react to the town getting its own funding for the project, as well as how the town would get CDOT to prioritize the project if the town has the money for it. Badesch said that the more the town is able to demonstrate the urgency of the project and the resources they have to make it happen, the easier it will be to bring CDOT along.
Silverthorne town attorney Karl Hanlon said in his experience, CDOT typically gets excited when fellow stakeholders bring funding to the table they normally wouldn’t have access to.
Badesch said her firm approaches large, challenging projects like Exit 205 by breaking out the project into smaller, individually fundable pieces.
“We definitely work on these types of projects and I think have had significant success through taking different pieces, aligning them with different resources, and doing the work over time to start leveraging it,” Badesch said. “And then once you start, success breeds success. You get a couple grants and more partners are interested in jumping in because the federal government or state is already invested, and they want to get the project through to the finish line.”
Badesch said in her time working with Glenwood Springs, the firm has been able to help secure more than $13 million in grant funding for the town. Hanlon is also the city attorney for Glenwood and said he has only had good experiences working with them in the past.
Hyland said Hanlon’s experience with the firm is what led council to want to work with them. He said while the Exit 205 project is obviously the biggest project they were looking for help with, he is excited about the opportunity to potentially get funding for other town projects, too.
“We just want to make sure that our community is best positioned to compete and access those dollars,” Hyland said. “It’s a political process and you need someone with that expertise to get you that access and help navigate.”
Council gave town staff the OK to move forward working with Sustainable Strategies, and they will be agreeing to a 12 month partnership costing the town $90,000.
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