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Behind the headlines

A long, cold winter ahead?

Q. After the 3-2-1 transportation tax failed Tuesday night, officials with Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. expressed grave concerns about the future of the ski season jet flights program. What do you think the impact of the tax’s failure will be?

A. It is evident that Ski Corp. is reviewing the airline program and probably considering reducing flights. The volunteer contribution portion will be significantly less due to economic conditions.

A reduction in support means fewer flights, which negatively impacts an already weakening economy.

The result will be less money for working individuals, businesses, schools, the county, the city and non-profits.

Q. Now that the tax has failed, what’s the strategy for the Chamber on airline flight guarantees? Are we likely to see another version of the tax in the future?

A. We will support air service to the greatest extent our members deem possible.

Airline executives have made it very clear they will not fly into Hayden without SUBSIDIES. The 2002-2003 season and beyond presents the biggest challenge and there is no easy solution. Passing another version of the tax is probably not feasible without us all feeling the shock of a local recession.

Q. To some degree, the election results show Steamboat is evenly divided, with much of that division centered around the chamber’s role in the community. Were you surprised that the chamber became such a lightning rod for criticism in this election and now that the election is over, what’s the appropriate way for the chamber to respond?

A. I was very surprised. I knew that a small group was ATTACKING the chamber to divide the community as a political strategy to promote their agenda but did not think it would resonate with many citizens.

I wrongly assumed that everyone understood that we are a group of 850 mostly very small businesses, individuals, and non-profits representing all parts of local life.

However their message did tap into a sentiment in the community. We recognize this problem and need to address that sentiment by better explaining the civic roll of the chamber and its members.

Q. There is a lot of discussion in Steamboat Springs about growth, but everyone seems to have a different definition of what appropriate growth is. From your perspective, how does the chamber define appropriate growth?

A. The Chamber membership is as diverse on growth as the community at large. Most of our members would probably agree that appropriate growth is that which would maintain a viable economy while preserving the qualities of a small town.

Q. How concerned are you about the economic forecast for the coming winter and what steps do you think the business community will take to survive the downturn?

A. I am very concerned.

Business will be down significantly and all segments of the community will be affected. Many businesses will be forced to operate with less staff, reduced inventory levels and cost-reduction programs.

The Chamber will continue to lead in raising as much money as we can to support air service.

We will closely monitor rapidly changing winter tourism trends to provide planning information to our members.

Our marketing committee is already working on summer business which will hopefully reduce the certain losses we will suffer this winter.


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