Industry groups will play key role in helping plot Steamboat’s path to recovery |

Industry groups will play key role in helping plot Steamboat’s path to recovery

Routt County did not receive approval to transition to the next recovery phase amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email sent Thursday, the state health department said the county needs to reduce the number of new cases before it can advance to Safer at Home Level 1.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In order to find a path forward in the midst of a global pandemic, the Steamboat Springs Chamber has initiated economic recovery industry work groups to help assess the impacts of COVID-19 and make plans for recovery.

“As our community navigates this challenging time, we have learned how impactful it is to have industry-specific meetings to strengthen businesses through collaboration, recommendation creation and advocacy,” said Chamber CEO Kara Stoller.

Stoller pointed to the Steamboat Springs Chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association and the Steamboat Springs Lodging Association, which have been meeting regularly to discuss the impacts of COVID-19, the problems caused by the shutdown of businesses and the outlook going forward. These groups have also worked on a unified approach for how to reopen and move forward safely in a new business landscape.

“As a group, the Lodging Association had a bit of dialogue with the county commissioners and worked with them to help provide feedback in terms of the short-term lodging ban that went into place, and then, that got extended. So the Lodging Association had a voice in those decisions,” Stoller said. “We’ve also been meeting with the Steamboat Springs chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, I would say, anywhere between one and three times a week over the last couple of weeks. We have been trying to bring to the table recommendations for reopening to the county commissioners.”

Restaurants in Routt County were allowed to reopen for dine-in service with certain restrictions on Sunday. Stoller said the restaurant industry group will be approaching Steamboat Springs City Council during a Wednesday night meeting with ideas to expand outside seating and a request the city provide leniency in regards to liquor license boundaries so that restaurants can have more space outdoors to offset indoor seating capacity limits.

This approach has given those industries a voice in the process, and now, Chamber officials are expanding to form additional industry work groups. The purpose of these groups is to identify specific support and change that needs to happen in order to open businesses and assist them in long-term economic recovery.

Fourteen different industry sectors have been identified, ranging from restaurant and lodging groups to outfitters, recreation facilities and more.

Economic Recovery Industry Work Groups
  • Lodging
  • Restaurants
  • Construction
  • Banking
  • Retail
  • Personal services
  • Childcare/summer camps
  • Activity companies, guides, outfitters
  • Events/festivals/tournaments
  • Gyms/health clubs
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Weddings
  • Nonprofits
  • Real estate/field services

“It’s important to have a recommendation from an entire industry rather than policymakers having to weigh in on letters and emails and trying to figure out what’s the best path forward for a set industry,” Stoller said. “I think it’s been really beneficial for them to have these joint efforts, these industry group efforts, so we wanted to expand that.”

Chamber board members and staff, business owners, Routt County commissioners and Steamboat Springs City Council members serve on these various working groups.

“The community has done an excellent job keeping our numbers low,” said Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger. “From April 30 until May 18, we did not have any new positive cases, and now, we just have one. As a cattle rancher, I like to say that our herd has done a great job of preventing new cases. Now we need to keep slowly re-opening all of our businesses, first to our herd and then to others, to get the economy going again.”

John Bristol, the Chamber’s economic development director, is leading the long-term economic recovery effort and will be working with industry leaders in plotting a course back to a new normal.

“Kara’s really led that effort in partnership with Routt County to lead that conversation and start coordinating that outreach,” Bristol said. “That’s a smart thing to do. You’ve got to have that engagement with government, especially in times like this.”

Stoller believes that Steamboat Springs as a community is in this together, and the best way to find the right path forward is for government and industry leaders to work together.

“Certainly, we’ve had conversations with a number of industries already, but we wanted to stand up additional industry work groups so that they could work together and share not only short term, but also long term, what will be needed to help support those businesses and each industry.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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