Steamboat Springs By the end of this year, the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative hopes to produce the Routt County Economic Index. The cooperative hopes the index will provide a reliable benchmark to judge the county's economy year-to-year and identify trends.
Noreen Moore, business resource director for the cooperative, said the only indicator measured and reported is sales tax. The Routt County Economic Index will measure several indicators and look at them as a whole with the hope of providing more meaningful data.
The first step will be to decide what components to include in the "basket" that will constitute the index. A regional meeting is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Bogue Hall, Room 100, on the Colorado Mountain College campus.
"We need people to take ownership and let us know what they want measured," Moore said.
Scott Ford, co-founder of the Mountain Learning Network, compared the index to indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the consumer price index and said it will provide a simple way to measure the trends in Routt County's economy. Ford is assisting the cooperative in developing the index.
"This is something we have needed for a long time," Ford said. "Our future is really bright, and our economy is really growing."
Ford said it is very important to measure more than sales tax figures to get an accurate picture of what's happening in the economy. For example, Ford said sales tax has little relation to the sources of wage income in the county. Overall, he said Routt County needs a measurement that reflects the economic diversity of the county. Data on building permits, per capita income and real-estate transactions are among the other indicators that may be included in the index.
"We're a grown-up little place," Ford said. "The more diverse the county gets, the more important it is to have a broad spectrum of indicators."
Keith Giglio, an economist and founder of the Monterey Bay Consulting Group, said another benefit of the index is that it will help keep things in perspective. Giglio said that in boom economies - like the one Routt County is experiencing commercially and residentially - there is a tendency for otherwise normal areas of the economy to become distorted. This can result in an unsustainable economy when the boom dies down.
Giglio said the index would help identify what the sustainable economy looks like and how to build it.
"The index is not the answer to our needs, but it is a valuable tool," Giglio said.
For more information about the Routt County Economic Index, contact Moore at 870-4461 or email@example.com.
- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210
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