Our View: Summit key start for summer

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Editorial Board, February 2009 through May 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Paul Hughes, community representative
  • Gail Smith, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— Members of the local business community - and anyone needing a healthy dose of economic optimism these days - should take full advantage of an event that kicks off at 6 p.m. today at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

The 2009 Economic Summit, "Thriving in Tough Economic Times," comes at a crucial juncture for local businesses. After seven consecutive months of citywide sales tax revenues that were less than the corresponding month from the previous year, it's no secret the recession is taking a significant toll on Steamboat Springs and Routt County. Just about everyone is feeling the pinch.

But there are signs that things could be looking up, and now is an ideal time for local businesspeople to come together and share ideas that can spark our economy in time for the summer tourism season.

Because despite the recession, tourism season already is heating up. Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association staff, for example, are seeing more curious visitors coming through their door.

"I think our numbers have tripled in the past couple of weeks," Chamber spokeswoman Molly Killien said Tuesday.

It might just be that low gas prices and a desire for cheaper vacation options fuel a rush of regional and statewide guests to Steamboat. Nonetheless, it's encouraging that upcoming events are positioning local businesses to capitalize on the opportunity.

This Memorial Day weekend brings in summer with a slew of events, including the Yampa River Festival, the Paddling Life Pro Invitational kayak competition, a youth lacrosse tournament and a 25-team American Baseball Association tournament. On Saturday, a block party and rail jam on Seventh Street downtown, outside the Urbane clothing store, will celebrate the opening of the Ghost Ranch Saloon and the closing of Mainstreet Restaurant Week, which is stirring Steamboat appetites with deals at local eateries.

Restaurant week and the rail jam are examples of the kind of business innovation and creative thinking that speakers are expected to tout at the Economic Summit.

"We've all been going through very difficult times : the whole idea of this summit is how to thrive during this time," said Grant Fenton of the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council, which is organizing the summit. "Through each crisis, there's always an opportunity that exists if you look for it. ... This is really a catalyst for people to find that opportunity that exists in their life."

Routt County has proven itself time and again to be a hive of successful business ingenuity - companies such as Moots, SmartWool, TIC and Big Agnes spring to mind, and there are many more.

It's a safe bet that all those businesses began with a little outside-the-box thinking and optimism, ideals that will be front and center tonight and Thursday at the Economic Summit.

Chamber administrative assistant Alli Brook said about 150 people have registered for the event, and there is still time to sign up. The $60 cost can be paid at the door with cash or check. Attendees also can call the Chamber at 875-7000 with their credit card numbers.

Speakers include self-billed international trends expert Daniel Levine, economist Carl Steidtmann, Susan Kirkpatrick, of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and even former Denver Bronco Karl Mecklenburg. Thursday's schedule includes a number of break-out sessions for attendees.

We agree with Fenton that the lineup's variety could turn on a proverbial light bulb, in one way or another, for just about everyone.

"I think we've sort of tried to challenge the business community and the community at large to attend," Fenton said, adding that this year's event differs from past summits, which may have appealed primarily to one niche group or another.

"I think this year it appeals to everybody," he said.

That's true. We all share setbacks from the recession, but we all also could share benefits from a rebound. The Economic Summit is an opportunity not to be missed.

The 2009 Economic Summit, "Thriving in Tough Economic Times," comes at a crucial juncture for local businesses. After seven consecutive months of citywide sales tax revenues that were less than the corresponding month from the previous year, it's no secret the recession is taking a significant toll on Steamboat Springs and Routt County. Just about everyone is feeling the pinch.

But there are signs that things could be looking up, and now is an ideal time for local businesspeople to come together and share ideas that can spark our economy in time for the summer tourism season.

Because despite the recession, tourism season already is heating up. Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association staff, for example, are seeing more curious visitors coming through their door.

"I think our numbers have tripled in the past couple of weeks," Chamber spokeswoman Molly Killien said Tuesday.

It might just be that low gas prices and a desire for cheaper vacation options fuel a rush of regional and statewide guests to Steamboat. Nonetheless, it's encouraging that upcoming events are positioning local businesses to capitalize on the opportunity.

This Memorial Day weekend brings in summer with a slew of events, including the Yampa River Festival, the Paddling Life Pro Invitational kayak competition, a youth lacrosse tournament and a 25-team American Baseball Association tournament. On Sunday, a block party and rail jam on Seventh Street downtown, outside the Urbane clothing store, will celebrate the opening of the Ghost Ranch Saloon and the closing of Mainstreet Restaurant Week, which is stirring Steamboat appetites with deals at local eateries.

Restaurant week and the rail jam are examples of the kind of business innovation and creative thinking that speakers are expected to tout at the Economic Summit.

"We've all been going through very difficult times : the whole idea of this summit is how to thrive during this time," said Grant Fenton of the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council, which is organizing the summit. "Through each crisis, there's always an opportunity that exists if you look for it. ... This is really a catalyst for people to find that opportunity that exists in their life."

Routt County has proven itself time and again to be a hive of successful business ingenuity - companies such as Moots, SmartWool, TIC and Big Agnes spring to mind, and there are many more.

It's a safe bet that all those businesses began with a little outside-the-box thinking and optimism, ideals that will be front and center tonight and Thursday at the Economic Summit.

Chamber administrative assistant Alli Brook said about 150 people have registered for the event, and there is still time to sign up. The $60 cost can be paid at the door with cash or check. Attendees also can call the Chamber at 875-7000 with their credit card numbers.

Speakers include self-billed international trends expert Daniel Levine, economist Carl Steidtmann, Susan Kirkpatrick, of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and even former Denver Bronco Karl Mecklenburg. Thursday's schedule includes a number of break-out sessions for attendees.

We agree with Fenton that the lineup's variety could turn on a proverbial light bulb, in one way or another, for just about everyone.

"I think we've sort of tried to challenge the business community and the community at large to attend," Fenton said, adding that this year's event differs from past summits, which may have appealed primarily to one niche group or another.

"I think this year it appeals to everybody," he said.

That's true. We all share setbacks from the recession, but we all also could share benefits from a rebound. The Economic Summit is an opportunity not to be missed.

Comments

Tracy Barnett 5 years, 2 months ago

The MainStreet Block Party and Urbane Rail Jam are on SATURDAY, not Sunday. The event is from 1-4 pm on 7th Street between Lincoln and Yampa Street.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 2 months ago

I have been involved with the Economic Summit (ES) since its beginnings. (15 years ago?) In the beginning the focus was almost exclusively on the tourism sector of the local economy. The focus of the ES has evolved along with the local economy.

It has been the starting point of some great ideas, MainStreet Steamboat, Economic Gardening, SCORE and Cultural/Heritage Tourism. I know I am likely missing a few other initiatives that had their start at the EC. It is a great conference for those that believe in the possibility of the future and that we can do things locally to help shape it.

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Mike Lawrence 5 years, 2 months ago

Mimsgram,

The rail jam and block party is indeed 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. The date has been changed above. Thanks for the heads-up.

Mike Lawrence City editor Steamboat Pilot & Today mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com 970-871-4233

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