Our View: Tilling the soil for economic growth | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Tilling the soil for economic growth

The impact of TIC's departure from Steamboat Springs will be felt across the community for years to come. What should remain even longer is the company's legacy of philanthropy as well as the reminder that purposeful economic gardening works and is an effective approach to help grow future businesses to fill TIC's shoes.

The loss of TIC's remaining 124 employees by the end of 2013 ultimately was inevitable for a company that was purchased by Nebraska-based Kiewit in 2008 and already had transferred 100 of its Steamboat-based employees during the past few years. And while it's likely some of the remaining 124 will choose to stay in Steamboat to pursue other opportunities, the $7 million in estimated annual payroll TIC currently injects into the community will take much longer to replace. Also difficult to replace are the active, involved members of our community who occupy many of those TIC positions.

Although TIC's departure will be painful for many, the company's commitment and contributions to Routt County and Steamboat Springs throughout the past 38 years deserve recognition. From supplying a significant number of good-paying jobs to its generous corporate giving to local causes, TIC has been the definition of a community-minded business. Its tremendous success since its founding in 1974 was good for Steamboat, just like its purchase by Kiewit simply was part of the inevitable cycle of growth for successful businesses here and across the world.

So, as TIC's sprawling west Steamboat campus is vacated and its last remaining local jobs moved to the Front Range, the city of Steamboat and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and its Economic Development Council must re-focus their efforts on economic gardening and tilling the soil for the next generation of successful startups, transplants and location-neutral ventures. Specifically, the city and the Economic Development Council must lead the way in fostering an environment that encourages entrepreneurial growth. That means defining the technology, transportation infrastructure and workforce training needs of current and future Steamboat-based businesses, and forging partnerships to meet those needs whenever and wherever feasible and logical.

The Chamber's recent Economic Summit sought to lay the groundwork for a new strategic vision for the Yampa Valley's economic future. We agree with Chamber CEO Tom Kern that Steamboat needs a clear economic development strategy. TIC's announcement last week that it will vacate its longtime home sends a clear reminder about how important that strategy will be to growing a robust and diverse economy here.

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