'Sit down, roll up your sleeves'

Regional summit to explore solutions to community issues

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One-quarter to one-third of residents in the Yampa Valley struggle economically.

The cost of housing, particularly in Routt County, continues to increase, preventing low- and moderate-income residents from owning homes.

The gender wage gap in Routt and Moffat counties is greater than in Colorado and the U.S.

Many residents have heard or read about these and other key findings in the Community Indicators Report, published early this year by the nonprofit Yampa Valley Partners.

The findings have resurfaced in various community conversations, but YVP wants to take those to the next level, exploring solutions to the worrisome trends.

The 2005 Regional Lead--ership Summit, a set of two meetings in October, is designed to connect government officials, nonprofit leaders, business owners and concerned citizens to take action about problems affecting the entire valley.

"The concept is getting people to sit down and talk to each other and really get stuff to happen," project coordinator Tammie Delaney said.

Every other year, YVP releases an indicator report about social, economic, environmental and civic issues that helps measure the quality of life in Routt and Moffat counties.

The purpose of the summit, sponsored by local and county governments, is to use those ideas to plan for the future.

"What the indicators are saying, is the Yampa Valley is poised for a 'tsunami of growth,'" Delaney said, using a phrase from Mick Ireland, a Pitkin County commissioner who has emphasized the importance of planning in resort areas.

On Oct. 6, summit participants will break down issues and concerns from an economic perspective. They will relate those issues to Colorado with the help of state demographer Jim Westkott and Patrick Long of the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business and the Center for Sustainable Tourism.

Peter Kenney of Civic Results will speak about the power of regional collaborative efforts. Kenney, who facilitated a large meeting about growth in Hayden last year, also will lead the Oct. 20 summit session.

The "sit-down-and-roll-up-your-sleeves" session will involve short panels and "table-top discussions" about how to overcome challenges and implement regional strategies, Delaney said.

"I am a firm believer that all of us in the valley have a love for what we have here," Delaney said. "We also have solutions."

Copies of the 2005-06 Com--munity Indicators Report are available at government offices, libraries and at www.yampavalleypartners.com.

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

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