Steamboat Springs For the fourth month, the Routt County public safety dispatch and communications director position lies vacant and the job has been reopened in hopes to lure the right person to Steamboat Springs.
County officials sold the position to a qualified applicant from out of town, but when his wife a school teacher couldn't find a job to suit her, the deal fell through, County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
Though hiring a qualified local for good jobs in Steamboat Springs is ideal, employers are faced with a reality of having to look out of town to fill specialized positions, which has challenges of its own.
"This has been the worst one," County Personnel Director Chris Hensen said.
Usually, the county can find someone to fill professional positions a little faster, but this job is more difficult to find the right person, she said.
Though the job hiring fell through because of the spouse's inability to find work, the cost of housing usually is the big deterrent to bring people into town for jobs.
"You don't need to be a genius to figure that out," said Brad Craig, director of quality at ACZ Laboratories Inc.
The soil and water testing company employs about 35 people. Right now, it is three employees under-staffed. However, because of the slow winter season for the business, Craig said the smaller staff will carry the company until spring.
"Experienced people are hard to find and retain for a period of time. We have good young people but usually they don't stick around for a long time," Craig said.
That puts the company in the position to convince applicants from out of town to come to Steamboat, he said.
The city of Steamboat Springs' approach at doing that is being up front with the applicants.
"We tell them that they should be aware that the cost of housing is significantly higher than other places," City Manager Paul Hughes said.
That means telling applicants to check out real estate costs on the Internet and connecting them with realtors. Once the applicant knows what they are getting into, the city will begin taking them seriously for the job.
"It's not a good situation for attracting good people," Hughes said.
Though salaries can be raised to offer people a better opportunity to pay for the high cost of housing, Hughes said the city can't match the speed at which real estate costs increase each year.
Jonathan Wheby, visitor center manager from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, said many businesses are beginning to have these problems.
Though Steamboat's economy has been resort-driven for a long time, Wheby said the past few years has seen the increase of private businesses, which has opened up professional jobs.
"There's more and more of a diversity growing in Steamboat," Wheby said.
Moots Cycles, Fat Eddy's Thread Works, BAP and Little Moon Essentials are a few of the newer locally owned businesses that have thrived in the past few years. All of which need, or will need, a professional business employee, he said.
Stahoviak said she believes housing costs aren't always the biggest factor for some people when considering taking a job in Steamboat Springs.
"Another thing that people don't understand is the remoteness of this area," she said. "We're quite a ways from a shopping mall and that's a big issue for some people."
But that can be what brings them in, too, Commissioner Ben Beall said.
"We have a different set of things to offer," he said.
Businesses have the advantage of the recreational aspect of the area to sell employees on coming to town, Beall said.