Jim Clark: Business survey underway in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Jim Clark: Business survey underway in Routt County

If I were to ask you the question, “What is the profile of businesses in Routt County?”, what would your answer be? What drives our economy? How large is the preponderance of what we call location-neutral businesses? In fact, what are they?

This spring, Routt County and the Economic Development Council will commission a business survey, the first of its kind in our county. Although there is quite a bit of data available on a broad basis, we want to better understand what kind of businesses we have in the county, especially in the areas outside of Steamboat Springs in North, South and West Routt.

This is not a Steamboat Springs business survey, but a county-wide one.

The survey is being funded by a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, approved by the Routt County Commission. A committee of representatives from the Economic Development Council, the county, city, the Community Agricultural Alliance and Colorado Mountain College, along with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association are volunteering to help shape the survey.

I’ve spent a good part of my first six months here meeting with and listening to businesses discuss their challenges and opportunites in doing business here. But it’s only a small sample of employers. There are a number of issues we’ve heard about, but lack data on.

On the positive side, we know that the lifestyle and outstanding recreation here is a major factor in why so many businesses have started and grown here. Our outdoor manufacturing sector is a perfect example. Yet, we also hear that many challenges exist to doing business in a remote location. Housing is a common theme. Both from the standpoint of seasonal workers and in attracting and retaining full-time talent.

There are others. Daycare for children and early childhood education are struggles for working families and those who employ their parents, both from a standpoint of cost and availability. Broadband access, bandwidth and redundancy is a big problem for rural Colorado.

Air service and transportation can be added to the list. We know these are issues affecting employers, but to what degree and in what industry sectors?

I mentioned location-neutral businesses. These companies and individuals can be hard to identify, along with agricultural producers. So, we’re asking you to tell us who you are.

Not every business will be surveyed, as is common and practical in research, we’ll be sampling from different industry sectors. But in particular, we need location neutrals and ag producers to survey as well. Both are important contributors to our economy that tend to be “invisible” in the available data sets we have.

So, if you are an ag producer or an LNB, we need you to “self-identify” so your sectors contribution to the Routt County economy and your business needs can be addressed. I’ll make it easy.

Send an email to me at jim@steamboatchamber.com. If you don’t sell your product or service locally and are a family or individual, there’s a good chance we need help in identifying you for the survey. I’ll reply with instructions on how to be added to the list. Your individual information is confidential.

Help us help you.

Jim Clark is the CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. He is writing a monthly column for the Steamboat Today that is published the third Thursday of the month.

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