Economy of place explored

Experts, leaders to speak about trends affecting community, lifestyle

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It's no secret that many people move to the Yampa Valley for the quality of life and sense of community.

What is not so clear is how economic and demographic trends could change the community and lifestyle that attracts so many people here.

Experts and community leaders from throughout the West will explore those questions today and Thursday during the Economic Summit 2005 at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center.

The event starts this evening with a discussion with Jim Westkott, director of the Colorado Demography Office, who will talk about how wealthy retiring baby boomers will bring about change in communities such as Steamboat Springs.

Gary Severson, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, will explain various factors that make up a community, including recreation and how residents take care of one another.

Connecting the landscape to how people develop policies in the West will be the focus of a discussion by Daniel Kemmis, director of the Center of the Rocky Mountain West and former mayor of Missoula, Mont.

Kemmis has written a series of books exploring the importance of place in policy-making decisions, and he often encourages audiences to consider how to sustain landscapes and strong communities amid growth

On Thursday, C.J. Mucklow, director of the Colorado State University Cooperative Ext--ension Service in Routt County, will talk about the importance of agricultural lands as open space.

Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland will follow with a discussion about the effects of growth in Aspen. Ireland, who is known for his wit and studies of resort demographics, will talk about what other communities can expect as growth demands increase.

Later, local economic experts Noreen Moore and Scott Ford will focus on the rapid growth of telecommunications, which has allowed more and more people to work from home offices for companies based in other places.

Speakers John Shively, president of the Yampa Valley Construction Trades Association and Linda Venturoni, director of special projects for the Northwest Council of Governments, will discuss the construction and second-home industries.

Tom DeWolf, a former city council member in Bend, Ore., and current Dischutes County commissioner, will offer more insight into how other communities have managed growth and change.

Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison and Fred Julander, president of Julander Energy Company and past president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, will address potential changes that may result from oil and gas drilling.

Finally, Sandy Evans-Hall, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, and other speakers will discuss the future of tourism, including efforts to promote cultural heritage tourism in Northwest Colorado.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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