Steamboat Springs City Council member Jon Quinn expresses his point of view with fellow member Meg Bentley during a discussion Monday afternoon at Centennial Hall. City Council has conducted several public discussions about economic development in recent months.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs City Council member Jon Quinn expresses his point of view with fellow member Meg Bentley during a discussion Monday afternoon at Centennial Hall. City Council has conducted several public discussions about economic development in recent months.

Steamboat residents offers economic ideas to City Council

City Council takes criticism as it tries to put concepts into action

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— Randy Rudasics, of Yampa Valley SCORE and the Bogue Enterprise Center, suggested a website detailing local assets and resources for small businesses, to help Steamboat Springs attract new business owners and entrepreneurs.

John Spezia, of Transition Steamboat, talked about potential incentives for energy conservation or for businesses that promote sustainability, to develop a local renewable energy economy amid increasing demands for the finite resources of fossil fuels.

Ed MacArthur, of Native Excavating, suggested broad reductions to the city’s business-related codes and regulations, to spur activity from the private sector.

“You just need to get out of the way,” MacArthur said to Steamboat Springs City Council on Monday night in Centennial Hall.

Those three suggestions may have been the most concrete ideas to emerge during City Council’s wide-ranging discussion about economic development. The event was part of an ongoing series, which began with a packed forum in November at Howelsen Lodge. While Monday’s meeting drew a small crowd and passionate comments, much of the tone and topics changed little since that first forum in November.

City Council worked to clarify three long-term goals — preserving existing assets, leveraging those assets to boost economic activity, and increasing the city’s economic diversity — then placed potential action items beneath those assets. Those items included improving broadband access and supporting the Local Marketing District’s airline program and Bike Town USA initiatives.

City Finance Director Deb Hinsvark suggested the creation of an economic development fund in the city’s budget to better track and prioritize potential expenditures. She’s working on an estimate of funds that could be available for economic development. That figure could clarify potential action.

But coming three months into economic development work, Monday’s discussion frustrated some council members.

“We’ve been talking in the clouds here for quite a while,” City Council member Jon Quinn said. “I’d love to get into specifics.”

Steamboat resident Steven Hofman took the criticism a step further, telling City Council that the “discussion was almost Nero-esque” — “a little bit of fiddling,” he added later — and, at times, a fruitless exercise in “micromanaging

the future.”

Hofman served as an assistant secretary of labor under President George H.W. Bush and is a former director of research and policy for the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He helped start City Coun­cil’s economic development discussion process in fall during meetings with some council members and City Manager Jon Roberts. He said Monday’s conversation got off track from a central goal that he described as increasing the city’s economic competitiveness while maintaining the community’s character and values.

“I have no problem with clouds, as long as it’s the right cloud,” Hofman said later.

City Council is planning at least one more economic development discussion with facilitator Roger Good, potentially in mid-February.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

ybul 3 years, 10 months ago

Hoffman statement about community character and values, needs first to be defined. Just as Scott Ford state on another articles comment section we are almost walking like in Alice in Wonderland with no clear direction or destination in mind.

What is the outcome that you want from these discussions. If you ask for more competitive business environment here, do you move away from the community and values that make this a desirable location neutral and tourist destination?

I think that first you need to know where you want to go and putting forth those ideas so that you can monitor to ensure you are moving in the right direction is critical to ensure real success. Then by doing as Randy stated above in listing resources of the region you know what you have to work with, as do others thinking of relocating.

This will also help if you set up a fund to help start up business' so you can see if by helping X, A, B and C will also benefit from its addition. A great example would be in the hospital subletting their laundry facilities to a local company to do laundry for the region. This adds jobs here in addition to keeping revenue that goes to denver to do laundry in the valley.

If possible figure out how the community foundation can invest some funds in these business, to build real community as opposed to investing in China to provide assistance for those in need here. Lets figure out how we can work towards a community with less need.

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kathy foos 3 years, 10 months ago

Ed McArthur says it best,You just need to get out of the way Let Walgreens alone and we need it! Dont stop free enterprise, Lyons drug is an excuse to stop it.I would shop Walgreens and not Lyons ,its out of my way.You create price fixing in the other stores by manipulating who can come to town and do business.Like something that would happen in Russia.Construction workers need the jobs!Locals need the work ,not Visa workers.I like walgreens,if you have a child with a fever and you are in need od medication it is a very good service for the public good. Let some new people with new ideas in,alternative energys,if you dont like it ,just get out of the way,its going to happen and you wont stop it.Be part of it or be gone yourself.Conservation is a great base and is free.Conserve the locals base by hiring american workers and boycott businesses that hire foriegners over locals.

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housepoor 3 years, 10 months ago

"preserving existing assets, leveraging those assets to boost economic activity" that is where we really dropped the ball and let the base area become a disaster

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ftpheide 3 years, 10 months ago

Sun, Did the City Council listen to Ed's advice? He sounds like a reasonable person. He is a self- made man and knows what he is talking about .

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George Hresko 3 years, 10 months ago

There are several common threads running through the Walgreens, YVHA and Monday's City Council meeting--some explicitly stated in these blogs and others referenced or questioned rhetorically. Several have stated that these issues and the decisions required need to be made in the context of the community character and values. I agree, and would direct anyone interested to the Vision 2030 Final Report for an extensive discussion of those values which the community at large desires to be stewarded for the future. I would note that these have been consistent over a period of many years. The problem arises when these efforts at describing community character and values are not carried into explicit long range plans by those elected to govern and their commissions. If our elected officials cannot answer the question: What does the community desire to be preserved, or the question: What if lost will cause irreparable harm to the character and values, then those elected are not aligned with the community, and is evidence of a lack of a long term plan for our town. (to be continued)

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George Hresko 3 years, 10 months ago

In the YVHA blog, Steve Lewis asked, I believe rhetorically but on the chance that it was not a rhetorical questiion, what was the commonality across several different community supported activities, including YVHA. I would suggest that the common thread is that each were started as single activities without a context or framework for where they would take the community over a long number of years. In other words they were one-off incremental decisions. For example, in support of Walgreens an earlier commenter mentioned that we weathered Staples, so Walgreens should not be a problem. And Mr. Quinn, in the YVHA blog argued that the proposed tax would be a relatively small incremental amount for each taxpayer. That is, incremental decisions without context.. Incremental decisions may well be appropriate at times, but only within the terms of an explicit plan. We all know about the straw that breaks the camel's back. And, almost all plan failures can be traced back to very small departures from the agreed upon path. (to be continued)

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George Hresko 3 years, 10 months ago

So, I would argue, we need to start the hard work of translating the previous visioning exercises into explicit long term plans for Steamboat Springs; plans which will provide an adequate framework and context for making decisions such as that with respect to Walgreens, the YVHA and community economic development. It is the responsibility of our elected representatives to see that such plans are developed and adhered to. There is a huge temptation on their part, I realize, to make one-off decisions, to grease the squeaking wheel. If we continue to do this, and continue to be unwilling to create an explicit long-term plan, then one day, down the road, folks are going to be asking what happened to the values and community character of Steamboat Springs, who decided that it should have changed? I submit it's preferable to have a plan with which all may not agree, than to have no plan other than incremental decison-making.

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sledneck 3 years, 10 months ago

O M G!

WHAT?

Here's a plan... Get the **** out of the way. Leave people alone, and stop trying to run the entire show. It didn't work in Russia and it ain't gonna work here.

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ybul 3 years, 10 months ago

OMG, WHAT? Gee it is called planning to improve an economy, by why try to help out if it is going to move you away from your goal.

The Japanese are very good at it, you look at any successful country and they plan and help rising sun business' and sometimes help out one of the final competitors in a declining business. This way, when all else are gone the lone survivor still exists.

It would be like trying to help organize an industrial cleaner located in the Hospital, which has the facilities already available. Try to structure it to pay a living wage for the workers or have those working there be employee owners, which gives them the incentive to be as profitable as possible.

here the feds tend to institute policies which actually may help in moving towards one goal, but move away from other broader goals. Ethanol is a good example and there are many more which I am sure you are aware of Sled.

We do not need a walgreens, walgreens needs to conform to city building codes if it wants to come. Putting the front of the building towards HWY 40 does not seem like that much of a hardship.

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sledneck 3 years, 10 months ago

Tell you what; let's use the "we don't need another..." as the criteria for EVERYTHING in this community. Here's how that would go...

We may not need a Walgreens; true enough. But we also do not need 2 of the pizza resturants we have. I want to eliminate YOUR favorite one. We do not need some of the gas stations we have.I want to eliminate the one YOU use every week. We do not need 20% of the resturaunts. Especially the one you and your wife like. We shure as hell don't need some of the bars. We dont need some of the sporting goods stores or all the retailers on Lincoln Av. After all they are only hurting one another by competing for a limited number of consumers. Do we really need so many ski lifts on mt werner? or so many construction companies? Why so many fire-fighters; there were no fires last week.

And if we use the "we don't need" logic we could sure as hell say we don't need as many public employees as we have either.

The city building codes suck and they steifel business. We have not had any bulidings collapse recently, maybe we don't need so many building inspectors...eh?

But what we need least of all is people with NO VESTED INTEREST telling others what they should build and where.

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ybul 3 years, 10 months ago

Yep we should let an oil refinery go in right there also.

I do not think we need government building inspectors either. Think we should have structural engineers sign off on the projects, bonded and insured to insure that buildings get built properly.

Did not say that Walgreens should be shut out of town, just stated that they could at least position the appealing side of the building towards the street. If you detract from the appeal of the community enough then we might end up with a few less of those bars, gas stations, sporting good stores and everything else.

Guess that positioning the appealing side of the building to the street was too much of a hardship.

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JLM 3 years, 10 months ago

Is it just me or does the City Council look like they are middle schoolers with a light homework load?

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JLM 3 years, 10 months ago

"The Japanese are very good at it..."

The Japs have been stalled for almost 2 decades. They cannot rebuild their economy with literally 0% interest rates.

You need to get out a bit more, son.

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JLM 3 years, 10 months ago

The American entrepreneur unleashed is the most prolific creator of jobs, wealth and prosperity.

Government is a continuing drag on that entrepreneurial zeal and creativity.

That government which provides incentives rather than obstacles to the American entrepreneur will be allowing the natural forces of market momentum and entrepreneurial zeal --- the greatest job creation mechanism in the history of the world --- to be unleashed.

It's not that hard to figure out.

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ybul 3 years, 10 months ago

Japan has been stalled for two decades because its population is declining not growing, its currency is very expensive on the world stage and getting more so. Though their government was the model upon which China has taken up the torch and stolen US manufacturing. Buying up factories here and dismantling them and shipping them to China.

I agree that government zeal is a drag on the economy. Though the government is trying to help here. It is trying to figure out how to provide incentives.

If an incentive is given you want to ensure that you do not hurt another business and the desired outcome would be that your incentive helps more than one business. ie facilitating a commercial laundry center in the hospital as it was built for it, which then could supply local and regional business' with clean laundry. Have the hotels and restaurants fund the start up capital with a small coop fee which guarantees lower laundry rates than are paid in metro Denver.

Thus people are put to work, more money stays in the valley and the regional business' see their expenses go down, a win win and an idea the council should be looking at. How can we leverage opportunities we have here.

That is why a list of assets should be developed. In Japan they gave incentives as you suggested. Yep they have stagnated, but that should not downplay what they did and how they did it. It would be like the above example to help raise all boats.

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kathy foos 3 years, 10 months ago

1.Instead of YVHA,why not a program to help stop forclosure's that are and have been rampant in Routt county,with no one offering help. 2.Agency to oversee gas and oil operations and permits ,safety ,insurance or funds to cover spills damage ,emergency action plans,development plans .Don't just turn them loose and trust them to do the right thing. 3Agency to promote alternative conservation and energy actions and enablers to do so.Financing opportunities for interested investors,,planners 4 Agency to make sure businesses do fair labor practices and don't pay cash ,hire visa workers over unemployed american's .These employers profit from this arrangement to the detriment of our local quality of life.The employers have shown that they cannot be trusted on their own,So what do we do to stop them?Monitor them on a county level?

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ybul 3 years, 10 months ago

Maybe if they focused on creating jobs there would be no need for either. Though the federal reserve created the mess we have today that needs dissolved and there is nothing we can do here about it.

There is an agency that regulates them fairly well. Yes they might need some fences around their wells. Why not propose a bill that requires bonding in the county/state for potential damages, if there insurance will not cover it.

All you need to do is have it effect the pocketbook, which it is starting to do and people will conserve as higher energy costs will lead to higher food costs. Though food which used to be 30% of a households budget is now10%.

Unfortunately what is fair to the employee in their eyes, seems a little outrageous in the employers eyes. Going through it today, with a rocket scientist.

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