Entrepreneurial spirit flourishes in Oak Creek, economist says


— The key to a thriving economy in Oak Creek is not to try to change the habits of its residents, local economist Scott Ford said, but to bring in business from the surrounding area.

As the business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Coop­erative, Ford gave a presentation to the Oak Creek Town Board last week. Overall, he’s encouraged by what he sees in the town.

“They’ve got a lot of talent there, and that’s part of what this highlighted to me,” he said.

He said the key is to find ways the town can help attract new businesses.

“Our challenge is to drive business to Oak Creek because that’s 85 percent of what’s going on,” he said. Trying things like getting residents to eat at local restaurants more often, for example, will only tip the scales a little and can be very difficult.

“That’s an absolutely Her­culean effort, changing consumer shopping patterns,” he said.

Although it’s not entirely clear where the outside business comes from, Ford said it’s pretty easy to guess that a lot comes from other parts of Routt County and the population center of Steamboat Springs.

Ford said it’s easy for towns to fall into a trap of “there’s nothing that can be done,” but by promoting local workshops and training sessions, he said Oak Creek could help boost its economy.

According to Ford’s analysis of tax returns, Oak Creek had $9.93 million in retail sales in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available. That’s less than the $11.64 million in 2007, but generally continues an upward trend from $8.53 million in 2006.

Also at last week’s meeting, the Town Board members:

■ Voted to table a suggestion to award merit-based raises to all town employees until after an audit.

■ Approved a liquor license renewal for Shorty’s.

■ Agreed to decline to accept their pay for being Town Board members. Other recent Town Boards also have declined to collect their stipends.

■ Tabled an extension of the emergency moratorium on medical marijuana cultivation until board members hear from the town attorney regarding the new statewide medical marijuana law.


Scott Wedel 6 years, 10 months ago

"but to bring in business from the surrounding area"

Is that what he said? I thought that was also a tough option, but the best idea is to work with people in town and help them grow their businesses. That the business idea that grows could be just about anything.

Also, the data for "Oak Creek" was not for just the Town limits, but based upon zip code 80467 so it also included Stagecoach. And the "retail sales" was a reasonable estimate of what people that submitted tax returns would have spent on retail based upon their income. And Mr Ford then explained that people typically spent a whole lot of their income out of their home area. "Retail Sales" was most clearly NOT what is being spent in Oak Creek. It is, in fact, representative of the purchasing power of households in the 80467 zip code.

Lastly, no mention of the state of the Town's electrical system as determined by the NMPP expert? No insult to the informative and hopeful Scott L Ford, but I think the big news in that meeting was the sorry state of town's electrical infrastructure and how much more needs to be added to the annual budget for maintenance.


max huppert 6 years, 10 months ago

Always so Negative Scott.. guess you should have talked to Scott Ford about a business plan before you bought the car wash.. He might have helped you...


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