Our View: Springtime gardening of the economy a worthwhile effort
May 7, 2013
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high Tuesday, driven by continued optimism in the nation's slow recovery from the Great Recession. Locally, Routt County's unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent in March — the lowest it's been since February 2009. The real estate market continues to rebound, with median listing prices up 16.7 percent in March 2013 compared to March 2012. Sales tax collections in Steamboat Springs outpaced collections through the first quarter of 2012.
Although the economic indicators are encouraging, this is no time for the city, county and local business leaders to rest on their laurels. While the city's efforts at economic development in the past several years have produced, at best, dubious results, we're more encouraged by the work done by the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, among others.
Recognizing the growing influence and potential of location-neutral businesses in Steamboat Springs and Routt County is becoming increasingly essential to our economic health. Recent efforts by the Economic Development Council to launch a new website — http://www.steamboatbiz.com — geared toward providing essential information to businesses interested in relocating to Steamboat Springs is an example of a simple but effective response to a growing need. Other not-so-obvious initiatives also are underway in the name of economic development.
Chamber CEO Tom Kern has been reaching out to local businesses to learn about their needs and potential impediments to growth. The Chamber also has been engaging with statewide organizations in an effort to underscore the needs of the Yampa Valley from an infrastructure standpoint, including broadband capacity, transportation issues and cellular service. Economic "gardening" efforts led by entities like the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus strike at the heart of attainable economic goals for Steamboat — namely, nurturing existing and future small businesses and providing the resources that will allow them to compete in the national and international marketplaces.
Economic development efforts must be ongoing and constantly monitored and measured for effectiveness. There's no doubt the Yampa Valley has much to offer businesses and professionals who seek a high quality of life; we're pleased to see progress on visible initiatives that demonstrate the growing capability of our community to provide the infrastructure necessary for business success.