Sunday, February 28, 2010
I see young people.
I attended the Steamboat 700 forum Thursday night and want to add a key piece of demographic information that should be considered as we vote on this issue of annexation. This information is specific to the question about where the jobs will be created in the future that will necessitate increased housing.
In the world of job creation, there is a sea change that will continue to grow, about how jobs are materialized and how we work. The paradigm that we know and recognize is job creation created by a company and industry developing and growing. Traditionally, for us in this valley, those companies were and are recognizable in the world of manufacturing, tourism and the extractive and energy production sectors.
With the introduction and expansion of broadband, cellular availability, the Internet and now mobile devices, how and where we work has and will profoundly change. The traditional method for economic development was to incentivize a company to build or relocate their industrial opportunity for job creation. Now, communities are attracting workers who bring their jobs with them.
If we were approached by a company who said they would create 400 diverse, professional jobs at $150,000 a year throughout the next 20 years, we would jump at the chance. This creation of high-paying, diverse jobs that provide for career choices would add $60 million in payroll to our economy. That amount would equal many of our current industry sectors combined. It would go a long way to provide us with the economic diversity, career advancement and higher paying jobs for not only our young people and families, but for those who will be our new residents.
Sounds like pie in the sky? Well, it’s not, and it currently is here and already contributes to our economy. Known as “remote working,” “location-neutral business” or even “work Bedouins,” this style of work — both now and in the future — will continue to expand as people can live where they wish and work from home, coffee shops, and in our case, ski lifts, trout steams or the backcountry.
We do not need to build an industrial park to be attractive to this growing sector, but we do need housing and neighborhoods that offer homes in the $400,000 market. The more we have of those, the more jobs we will attract.
From a study done in 2006, we know that the people who will come have families and move here to raise their children and contribute to their/our community. We don’t need to fear them as “outsiders.” They will be the building blocks of a vibrant and growing community. In this light, housing becomes an economic infrastructure need and desired community asset.
From the 2006 study, we determined that about 10 percent of our residents were involved in remote working in one form or another. To see the details of this study on the Web, visit http://yampavalley.info, click the “Business & Economy” link, scroll down and click “Location Neutral Businesses” under the “Our Industries” heading.
If we take the expansion of this trend to 20 percent, based upon the increase of acceptance and support for remote working and technological advancements, that would translate to 400 homes in the 700 development, which would provide the addition of families, opportunities for careers, diversifying our economy and $60 million in payroll to the community. In the future, it may be that communities like ours will see developers of homes as partners in long-term job creation, and who knows, in the more competitive world of incentivizing for job creation, we may be competing for those developers to build next to “our town.”
South Routt County