Report suggests Routt County’s economy should diversify

John Bristol, executive director of the Routt County Economic Development Partnership, gave a presentation to Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, July 5, and used this chart to demonstrate that Routt County's economy is not as diversified as the United States as a whole.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy image

John Bristol, executive director of the Routt County Economic Development Partnership, believes Routt County’s economy should diversify its industries to achieve long-term stability.

Addressing Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday, July 5, Bristol provided a breakdown of Routt County’s industries compared to national averages.

 “We are not as diverse as the United States,” said Bristol. “We’re not as diverse as the state of Colorado when it comes to our industry mix, our job mix.”

He showed council a breakdown of the Routt County workforce based on industries, and illustrated how they compare to national averages. 

According to data Bristol retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau and, accommodation and food services account for over 13% of the total workforce in Routt County, making it the largest workforce industry in the county and above the national average. 

The gray lines on this bar graph show the national averages for workforce percentage by industry. Routt County is above the national average as accommodation and food services account for over 13% of the total workforce.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

Construction, real estate, utilities and arts, entertainment and recreation were among eight categories that were above the national average. 

The manufacturing sector in Routt County, however, only accounts for 3.5% of the county’s workforce, well below the national average. 

In all, workforces in Routt County across 11 different industries are below national averages, including management, scientific and technical services, health care, finance and insurance, wholesale trade, educational services, and transportation and warehousing.

Bristol said one of the goals of the RCEDP is to encourage growth in industries such as manufacturing and the management of companies and enterprises.

“These are areas that pay above average annual wages,” said Bristol, who then declared that the RCEDP has, so far this year, facilitated $240,000 worth of grant funding to three local companies that are anticipated to create 56 new jobs.

Bristol said Steamboat is an attractive location for business owners because of its talented and well-educated workforce, but entrepreneurs hesitate after asking about the workforce availability.

He said the lack of housing availability and low unemployment in Routt County — 2.5% last month according to Bristol — are common threads of concern among business owners outside the county.

To demonstrate the benefits of attracting a diverse field of external investment, Bristol compared the revenue streams from Microsoft and Meta, two of the largest tech companies in the world. Meta owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

He showed two pie charts showing the percentage of revenue by source for the two companies.

According to Bristol’s data, Meta receives over 97% of its revenue from advertising. Microsoft, however, took a diversified approach with its revenue streams. Server products and cloud services are Microsoft’s largest source of revenue but only account for 31% of the total. 

Bristol then showed City Council a chart comparing Meta’s and Microsoft’s stock prices since 2013. Meta’s stock was visibly more volatile than Microsoft’s, and despite having a higher stock price for most of the previous eight years, Meta’s stock was surpassed by Microsoft’s near the end of 2021. 

After Bristol’s presentation, City Council president Robin Crossan asked if Bristol could make another chart that compares Steamboat’s workforce to similar resort towns, including both mountain and summer resort communities. 

“We can do that, and I would love to dive into that data a little bit more and report out,” he said.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.