Next step after summit: Action

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— It's not over not even close.

The most challenging aspect of this year's Economic Summit June 1 and 2 was not getting hundreds of residents involved and it was not organizing hundreds of opinions offered at several meetings.

The most challenging aspect of the summit will be following through. Walking the talk, so to speak,

A quick review of notes from the summit revealed no less than 40 courses of action that summit participants developed to solve what they believe to be the community's greatest challenges.

So far, community leaders and summit coordinators have not crossed anything off the list of ideas as unrealistic.

"I think everything is doable," the chamber's Executive Vice President Sandy Evans said. "Of course not everything fits under the (Economic Development Council's) vision, goals and objectives. That means some people will have to take summit ideas and goals upon themselves."

Who will pursue these courses of action? Which are feasible? When will they be pursued? These are the questions now facing not only the EDC, City Council and chamber, but the entire community particularly those residents who were involved at the summit.

"This is a cumulative process," Councilwoman Arianthtettner said. "The trust and dialogue established is very powerful."

At a meeting on June 9, about 20 people who participated in group sessions at the summit gathered together to demonstrate their commitment to improving Routt County. The point of the meeting was to identify specific courses of action to associate with the summit's "strategies for success."

"A lot of 'conveners' showed up, and many of them were willing to step up to the plate and take action," Evans said. "Some, of course, were not prepared to do this. But the pressure of the group finally convinced them they needed to step up."

Evans and County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak emphasized that if someone at the meeting wasn't willing to take responsibility for an issue about which they said they felt strong, the issue would die then and there.

Child care

Medora Fralick took responsibility for affordable child care. Next week, First Impressions will meet to begin identifying a dedicated, ongoing funding source. It might mean going to voters with a ballot initiative.

Affordable housing

Affordable housing was, understandably, assigned to Rob Dick, executive director of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation. A RALF subcommittee is already discussing how to establish a dedicated funding source for affordable housing.

Dick also will talk to The Nature Conservancy about utilizing the group's polling services during any public education campaign that might lead up to a ballot question.

Dick also will contact attendees of the affordable housing session at the summit to continue the dialogue and engage interested parties. Katie Kiefer, who headed up a summit session on "NIMBYism" ("Not In My Back Yard") as it relates to affordable housing, intends to work with the educational sub-committee of RALF to provide positive public information about affordable housing.

Transportation

Dan Smilkstein and Dick Curtis will meet with Deputy City Manager Wendy Dubord to move forward on developing better non-motorized transportation in Routt County.

Economic diversity

The promotion of economic diversity is being headed up by Peter Remy and Stephanie Reineke. Reineke is developing a communications mechanism for city-wide input on telecommunications in the region. Investment groups will be invited and nurtured by Jason Thorne. Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus Dean Bob Ritchel said he will explore getting CMC involved in telecommunications and technical training.

Work force

Audrey Danner of Yampa Valley Partners has taken the lead on the issues of livable wages and finding and retaining employees.

Yampa Valley Partners will continue to host discussions on the livable wage issue.

Frank May and City Manager Paul Hughes will put together a Human Resource Managers Council to discuss the possibility of creating a seasonal worker database. The idea is to establish year-round employment opportunities and benefits for employees that are shared by more than one part-time employer.

Also, Danner, on a regular basis plans to host a gathering of employers at which attendees can discuss hiring practices, retention tools and benefits.

Creating a database of local career opportunities, and not just of employees themselves, is one of the goals of Dianna Sutton, Megan Moore and Erin Gilbertson. They want to improve the opportunities for younger people to settle in Routt County.

Place-based education

Mike Tetreault and Paul Sachs will invite groups that have previously been involved in place-based education to talk to the Rotary Club about continuing related programs.

Growth

County Commissioner Ben Beall took responsibility for taking the lead on the growth-management issue. One of his first goals is to change zoning laws to increase the size of "ranchettes" that cannot be broken up into smaller parcels by developers. As zoning laws now stand, 35-acre ranchettes are protected. Beall would increase the size of the protected parcel to 160 acres.

Agriculture

Colorado State University Extension Agent CJ Mucklow will put together a sub-committee to review regional policies regarding agriculture. He also will form a group to brainstorm ways to make co-op projects, such as Yampa Valley Beef, successful.


Ski area base

Peter Patten has taken responsibility for researching financing mechanisms for a business improvement district at the ski base area. Noreen Moore and Patten are also looking into inviting the public to a Mountain Business Association meeting this summer to help define future changes in the area.

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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