From the Chamber: We are stronger together |

From the Chamber: We are stronger together

On April 28, the Routt County Board of Health moved our county to a less restrictive level on Routt’s Road to Recovery Dial. We are now in the least restrictive levels since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s start. Our community has put in a massive amount of work and made incredible sacrifices to get to this point.

Kara Stoller

The past year will be one we recall often in years to come, similar to events like Sept. 11. What did you do, where were you living, how did you get through it, who was in your bubble, did you run out of toilet paper? The babies that have been brought into the world recently will hear stories about how their first months were in a world upside down. Those graduating from high school will hopefully recall the close relationships they built or fortified while having to forgo traditional senior year rites of passage.

For the Steamboat Springs Chamber, we will look back on this time recalling that we continued to strongly support the business community. Our tactics certainly changed, however our focus on economic vitality in Routt County remained.

Our team spent the past year distilling down and communicating out relevant COVID-related updates from public health orders and guidelines to fiscal support opportunities to changes in legislation. We connected businesses to available resources. Advocacy was at the top of our priorities, working day in and day out with Routt County, local municipalities and the state to ensure economic implications were taken into account. We also continually advocated that additional resources and support be made available to businesses and employees.

As the light at the end of the tunnel continues to brighten, the Chamber team wants to ensure the silver linings of the past year carry on.

Team members are our No. 1 asset. We have always known this but have become so much more grateful for our colleagues and their dedication to the organization. So many employers in our area are struggling to hire for vacant positions. As the community works to address the lack of workforce, now is the time to recommit to your current team.

The value of being together in person is hard to measure. However, in a time such as this and with mental health concerns on the rise, it is critical to connect and spend time reengaging, having dialogue, and acknowledging and honoring the past year.

There is also value in flexibility for your team and enabling hybrid work models as needed for your team to manage various aspects of their life. The Chamber team has been working with First Impressions to create a Family Friendly Workplace Handbook with policy examples which we look forward to sharing soon. Last year’s class of the Chamber-led Leadership Steamboat program created a DIY DEI toolkit that is available on our website. Both resources are designed to help employers retain and attract top talent.

Much of the past year had business owners navigating day by day. Planning for the next year or even the next month seemed impossible. Now is a great time to refocus on updating goals and priorities as well as workload for owners, managers and staff. One silver lining is the awareness of our flexibility and adaptability.

The Chamber team is also shifting gears to longer term planning both for our internal operations as well as our continued support of the business community. We are working to make available additional resources for employees and employers including mental health seminars, continuing education sessions, commonly used business document templates and more.

Our team is actively involved in the work underway to guide our region through the challenging transition away from coal-powered energy. The Chamber board recently discussed workforce housing needs and will be creating plans to support efforts underway by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority as well as work to bring collaborative solutions forward.

With the glimmers of hope and return to new normal, we will still feel impacts of the last year for months and years to come. I encourage you to strive for positivity and work to hang on to the silver lining lessons learned. Also, know that days ahead will still be difficult. Take care of yourself and your friends and neighbors. We are stronger together.

Kara Stoller is CEO of Steamboat Springs Chamber.

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