Learn more about the 2010 Routt County Livability Index at www.livabilityindex.com. The document measures the quality of life in 10 Colorado counties according to civic, economic, social and environmental factors, by comparing data annually to baselines set in 2008.
Steamboat Springs Scott Ford is leaving his position as director of the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative to focus his attention on financial debt consulting.
Ford, a local economic guru known for his Hawaiian shirts and ceaseless scouring of data, recently gave Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan a notice of his resignation, effective April 15.
Ford became director of the cooperative in February 2010. He’s been involved with the group since about 2003 and has participated throughout the years in numerous reports and studies about Northwest Colorado. Those studies include Yampa Valley Partners’ Community Indicators Project and the cooperative’s annual Routt County Livability Index.
Ford was involved in Steamboat Springs’ economic development discussions during winter, particularly as an advocate of increased broadband access. He also has taken a lead role in local implementation of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s request for economic data from counties across the state.
Ford’s regional economic work didn’t begin with the director position, and, he said, it won’t end when he leaves.
“I am not going to stop being involved in economic development activities,” Ford said Monday. “I’m just shifting gears a little bit to kind of get back into the one-to-one stuff I used to enjoy so much.”
Ford recalled his former work consulting with business owners through the Small Business Resource Center at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. He said he’ll be returning to that kind of personal interaction by helping people make sense of financial problems through Financial Peace University, a Tennessee-based organization that provides classes online and nationwide.
Ford said he’s been conducting debt-relief classes at Steamboat Christian Center and has no plans to leave Routt County.
Roger Good, vice chairman of the Economic Development Cooperative’s board of directors, said Ford provided a reliable asset for businesses seeking information about the local economy.
“Scott’s ability to do data analysis and do some things that took (the cooperative) to the next level are the things that set Scott apart,” Good said.
Sullivan said he has scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. April 11 at the Routt County Courthouse with entities involved with the cooperative to discuss how to move forward after Ford’s departure.
Ford chatted Monday about the recently published 2010 Routt County Livability Index, which compares quality-of-life data for 10 western Colorado counties, including Routt. The Livability Index project began in 2008 and measures improvements or declines in social, economic, civic and environmental factors, from baseline data set that year.
“The strength of this product is that it provides comparability across counties that look very much like us,” Ford said.
The index is available at www.livabilityindex.com.
Routt County’s drastic decline in construction values for new homes — a decrease of 82 percent in 2010 compared with 2009, according to the index — ranked ninth out of the 10 analyzed counties. In 10th place was Summit County, which saw a nearly 84 percent decrease in residential construction values in 2010.
A more surprising result from the index could come from its analysis of civic involvement, which measured a county’s change in voter participation from presidential to midterm elections.
Routt County ranked last out of the 10 counties, showing a 26 percent decrease in voter participation in midterm elections compared with presidential elections. Only Pitkin and San Miguel counties also had changes larger than 20 percent.
The disparity led Ford to crack a joke about Routt County lifestyles.
“We would say that we’re highly civically engaged,” he said. “If we’re in town, or if we’re not busy, or if we’re not in Moab that week.”