Chamber CEO: Economic development redefined for Steamboat and Routt County |

Chamber CEO: Economic development redefined for Steamboat and Routt County

Kara Stoller
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — What does economic development mean to you?

That’s the question Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association Economic Development Director John Bristol has been asking across Routt County over the past year. Responses often include attracting certain types of business, facilitating real estate development and increasing tourism, among other responses. Today, we’re working to redefine what economic development looks like across the county.

The Chamber’s economic development work is focused on aligning our community’s short-term activities, long-term programs and public policies so they work together in collaboration to sustain and improve the quality of life and economic well-being across Routt County.

We’re doing this with data-driven economic development strategies. And that means concentrating our resources on supporting the retention and expansion of our primary businesses, which are the pipeline for bringing new capital into the county that then recirculates locally. This is a sound practice. These are businesses that are highly invested in our community, and we’re grateful they choose to operate here.

So, what does this strategy look like?

First, we support primary businesses by leveraging our networks in both the public and private sector, from local governments to the federal government, in order to provide both technical and financial resources, as well as other creative solutions for our local businesses.

For example, over the last year, we facilitated the receipt of resources for international business development for multiple local manufacturers that pay above average wages. Finding, and exporting to, new markets helps local businesses like these sell more products, expand and offer higher paying jobs. This strengthens and diversifies our economy.

Second, we are welcoming today’s innovative entrepreneurs that are akin to the pioneers that found opportunity across the Yampa Valley in ranching, mining or other trades. Today, our Western hospitality remains the same as we embrace them, facilitate networking, identify resources and help with other needs. If you’re a new business or entrepreneur in the county, come talk with us. We’d love to welcome you to Routt County.

Third, we are actively supporting all 20 sectors of our economy and working to identify key industry clusters that we can engage further and support at a higher level. Just as you look to balance and diversify an investment portfolio, we need to diversify across economic sectors to become more resilient across Routt County should one sector face hard times.

As we redefine economic development in Routt County, we commit to taking a holistic approach to economic development, so that our community can become more sustainable and less subject to major swings. This means keeping our end goals of maintaining and improving our quality of life and economic well-being in balance.

Lastly, the Chamber is grateful to host and lead our community’s economic development function serving all of Routt County. This is an innovative and collaborative public-private partnership equally funded by Routt County, the city of Steamboat Springs and the Chamber. It’s a forward-thinking partnership and unique commitment to our community’s long-term stability. 

We are thrilled to be supporting and working with the South Routt Economic Development Council and the Hayden Economic Development Commission. Economic development is a community effort, and we’re all in this together.

Kara Stoller is the CEO of Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

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