Our View: Lifestyle economy a worthy investment

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Editorial Board, August through January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Shannon Lukens, community representative
  • Scott Ford, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

The Urban Land Institute’s presence in Steamboat Springs this summer has centered on the future of Yampa Street as a pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining district, but it was broader input from the Institute’s CEO that should strike a chord across the community.

It’s no secret that tourism has been the foundation of our economy for the better part of the past three decades, but the more recent impact of the location-neutral workforce in Routt County is harder for many folks to grasp. The significance of that growing segment of our community shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly as Steamboat sets a path forward for future growth, economic and otherwise.

Patrick L. Phillips, head of the Urban Land Institute, underscored that point during an economic seminar sponsored last week by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. Phillips, himself a part-time resident of Steamboat, leads the nonprofit organization whose mission is to “provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.”

Phillips emphasized Steamboat’s potential to attract well-educated young adults through the combination of economic diversification, intellectual stimulation and lifestyle-enhancing amenities. He pointed to several imperatives to Steamboat’s ability to attract “millennials,” a term that refers to the generation of Americans currently in their teens to early 30s: investment in amenities; capitalizing on the growing importance of technology; diversification of housing options; nurturing a strong relationship between the public and private sectors; and protecting community institutions related to education, culture and health care.

If some of those imperatives sound familiar, they should. Steamboat Springs and greater Routt County have spent much time, energy and resources on amenities, housing and community institutions in recent years. Technology infrastructure has been a more recent push and one that will be critically important to our ability to attract the young, highly educated professionals who can help our community prosper well into the future. Recent news of AT&T’s push to provide 4G LTE network capability throughout the region is significant.

But attaching a specific economic value to government expenses like bike trails, community support funding for nonprofit agencies and other non-essential services is a challenge, particularly during difficult economic times. So how does it all fit together? There’s not an easy or straightforward answer, but a focus on a lifestyle economy has been key to Steamboat’s growth since 2000, and we think it will be essential to our future. By focusing first on being a great place to live, we can’t help but be a great place to visit. 

Comments

Steve Lewis 1 year, 7 months ago

A good editorial, pointing to our strengths going forward. This week's poll seems parallel, asking about support for the plan to make pedestrian and cycling improvements on Yampa Street. "The plan" I have to assume, is this one from 2009, reshaping Oak, Yampa and Lincoln before our economic tumble:

http://worldwest.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/news/documents/2012/07/16/2009-02-09_-SS_Design_Standards_Book-_11x17.pdf

We all know fiscal times are changed. Yampa Street might see these fancy drawings made real through some funding coup. Oak Street will not. All the more reason to give a nod of appreciation to Dewey for his beautiful new sidewalks on Oak Street for Mountain Brew and neighbors.

Thanks Dewey!

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Tracy Barnett 1 year, 7 months ago

Oak Street is also included in the revitalization plan, just not yet. Check the Streetscape plan from 2009. Baby steps. The businesses on Oak Street, being more service oriented, and unless the mix changes, will not contribute to the sales tax base the way Yampa Street can. All in due time. That doesn't mean we should ignore Oak Street. It is an essential part of the mix.

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Ben Beall 1 year, 7 months ago

When is it time to move beyond the survival mode mentality that has been necessary for the past few years? It is time to articulate our vision forward even if cautious steps are still warranted. There are pieces and parts scattered about and good people leading the varied efforts. Thank you to the Editorial Board for helping the discussion along.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 7 months ago

Tracy, Thanks for your Farmer's Market and other successes. Good luck with the upgrades to Yampa St.

Our 10 year old sidewalk on Oak finally has some users, now that Dewey extended it another 100 feet. Still doesn't reach either corner, but we are finally tasting that pedestrian dream. Baby steps it is.

I wonder what Patrick Phillips thinks about Oak Street's potential, particularly for LNBs. In my opinion Oak doesn't need the bells and whistles of the Streetscape Plan; just the basic place to walk off the street would be a great start. Yampa Street needs this help too. I get that part.

Ben makes a good point. Maybe we should spend a little more polishing the gem. It aligns well with Patrick's advice, and the editorial above.

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