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Honey Stinger in Steamboat growing its hive

As city explores economic development, Honey Stinger expands

Nate Bird sits in front of Honey Stinger staff Thursday morning. Behind him is Lauran Dodge and, from left, Nick Sunseri, Pete Kraska, Bill Gamber, holding Griffin, Rich Hager, Melanie Maltby and Jeremiah Jackson.
John F. Russell

Online

Learn more about Honey Stinger at http://www.honeystinger....

— At least one well-known local business owner isn’t holding his breath to see what economic development policies city officials may or may not craft in Centennial Hall.

“I don’t follow any of that stuff, to be honest,” Bill Gamber said Thursday. “I’m too busy.”

Gamber is co-owner of BAP, Big Agnes and Honey Stinger, three award-winning businesses making names for themselves in the outdoor clothing, outdoor gear and natural energy food industries, respectively. Walking through the busiest little red house in Steamboat Springs — the business’ store, shop and offices on Oak Street — on a Thursday afternoon, Gamber shrugged off the passionate discussions that have occurred in recent months among Steamboat Springs City Council members and business community leaders.



He said he’s not really into “government intervention.”

“I kind of believe in capitalism,” Gamber said.



The new solar panels on the roof of the red house, installed with assistance from state grants, could belie those sentiments. But the solar panels are just one of several additions to the growing companies. In recent months, the trio of businesses has expanded Honey Stinger offices into an Oak Street building next door to the red house and added a new warehouse, solely for Honey Stinger, on Steamboat’s west side.

“We finally split the Big Agnes and Stinger warehouses,” Gamber said.

Stopping by the BAP house and Honey Stinger hive to chat with Gamber sheds an interesting light on the City Council economic development discussions, which have remained largely theoretical and “in the clouds,” as Councilman Jon Quinn noted last month.

The City Council’s $40,000 incentive, approved late last year, for the potential expansion of ACZ Laboratories spurred the ensuing economic discussions and is a concrete example of what city dollars can do. ACZ would get the money after receiving a certificate of occupancy for its expansion, as essentially a reimbursement of taxes ACZ would pay up front. The expansion could add short- and long-term local jobs.

The council also has expanded late-night bus service during ski season, providing a boost for bars and restaurants downtown and at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

But outside of that, the economic development efforts have produced little in the way of tangible, actionable items.

City Councilman Walter Ma­­­gill acknowledged that lack and said the council could be “on the same path a lot of groups have already gone down,” referring to existing city, county and regional economic development groups.

“It’s been good discussion,” Magill said about the meetings. “We don’t have any results we can hang up and show anybody yet.”

A third meeting with facilitator Roger Good has yet to be scheduled. Magill said it could occur in the first week of March.

As far as what he might like to see from local government, and what could help his businesses, Gamber speculated that some sort of housing assistance could benefit his employees.

And even though he’s not really paying attention, Gamber praised the efforts of Steam­­boat’s elected officials.

“It’s expensive to run a business here,” he said. “I’m glad that City Council is paying some attention to it.”


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