Black Tie Ski Rentals co-owner Ian Prichard, right, a participant in the Cents for Steamboat program, has partnered with Fleischer Sports owner Chad Fleischer in One Steamboat Place.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Black Tie Ski Rentals co-owner Ian Prichard, right, a participant in the Cents for Steamboat program, has partnered with Fleischer Sports owner Chad Fleischer in One Steamboat Place.

Chamber's Cents for Steamboat program struggling

Black Tie, Life Essentials, Pilot & Today only participants

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Black Tie Ski Rentals employee Alexa Webster sets up a board for customer David Granstaff on Thursday at the shop in One Steamboat Place.

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Learn more about the Chamber’s Sustainable Business Program, including Cents for Steamboat, online at www.steamboatchamber.com/sustainable.

— About 10 months after its inception, a local environmental donation program has just three participating businesses and has raised little funds.

The Cents for Steamboat program, an initiative of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Sustainable Business Program, has not garnered the response organizers expected and is seeking more participating businesses to contribute to sustainable projects in the Yampa Valley. The program enables businesses to ask customers for a voluntary contribution, usually equal to 1 percent of the bill or a set amount such as $1, that the businesses channel to a Chamber-managed fund for green projects selected by the participating businesses.

The program has drawn only three local businesses to sign up: Black Tie Ski Rentals, which opened its new location with Fleischer Sports last month in One Steamboat Place; Life Essentials Wellness Spa, on Fourth Street just off Lincoln Avenue; and the Steamboat Pilot & Today on Curve Plaza.

“I think based upon the downturn in the economy, we kind of anticipated that it might slow down a little,” said Lyn Halliday, of Environmental Solutions Unlimited. “I’m still optimistic for the future.”

Halliday works with the 56 businesses in the Chamber’s Sustainable Business Program to help them reduce waste, water and electricity use, conserve resources and create a more environmentally friendly business environment.

Halliday said that in about two weeks, after a fourth business might join the Cents for Steamboat program, she will work with the businesses to select a project for 2010. Past efforts have included a tree-planting day last year, where about 1,000 trees were planted near Steamboat Lake and its campgrounds; and a “Green Halloween” in 2008, when local children saw a demonstration about recycling and received reusable tote bags to collect candy.

Halliday said selecting a specific project for this year could spur more business participation and customer donations, no matter the size of the effort.

“Even without a lot of money in the budget right now, we can still have meaningful local sustainability projects,” she said.

Doing a lot with a little is the fundamental idea of Cents for Steamboat. Black Tie co-owner Ian Prichard said the business allows customers to click a box when placing Web orders to donate an amount equal to 1 percent of their bill to the program. An ethic of local involvement fits right in with the mentality of Fleischer Sports owner Chad Fleischer, a former Olympic skier who said he wants his store to have a personal, family-oriented feel.

“Our goal is to have every guest have a one-on-one experience,” he said last week at the store, which shares space with Black Tie to provide full rentals and retail in one location.

Allysa Eggleston, of Life Essentials, said her staff asks customers whether they would like to donate when they pay for services. The Pilot & Today places a $1 contribution onto each billing statement and allows customers to opt out of the program if they choose.

Assistant news editor Nicole Miller leads environmental efforts at the Pilot & Today building, which became gold-certified through the Chamber program in September.

“I was really excited about the Steamboat Pilot & Today joining the Cents for Steamboat program because all the money that is contributed will be reinvested in the community,” Miller said. “I think it’s a great way for the Pilot and our advertisers to give back to the community and support sustainable projects. I’m optimistic the program will be a success and that its list of member businesses will continue to grow.”

Suzanne Schlicht, World­West general manager and Pilot & Today publisher, said the newspaper was thrilled to be part of the Cents for Steamboat effort.

“We hope to raise about $5,000 a year,” Schlicht said. “I think every business should take a look at the Chamber’s Sustainable Business Program.”

To sign up for Cents for Steamboat, call Halliday at 970-879-6323. For more information about the Chamber’s sustainable programs and efforts, visit www.steamboat chamber.com/sustainable or call community development manager Meagan Coates at 970-875-7003.

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