Mountain Village Partnership growing during construction | SteamboatToday.com

Mountain Village Partnership growing during construction

Mike Lawrence

Faith Wilkins, of Chicago, jumps on the bungee trampoline Friday in Gondola Square at the base of Steamboat Ski Area where the base area redevelopment project is continuing in the background.

— A marketing and event promotion group is growing its membership as base area businesses look for a boost amid construction and the down economy this summer.

The Moun­tain Village Par­tnership, formed conceptually in the fall and distributed membership packets in March. Andy Wirth, president of the MVP's board of directors and senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said the response to the initial MVP membership drive has been "nothing short of tremendous." The MVP has several new events planned at the base area this summer.

Wirth said the MVP already includes more than 30 entities — businesses, individuals and other groups — and 30 to 40 more members are expected in coming months. The MVP's boundaries follow those of the city's urban renewal authority at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

The partnership is a revival of the decades-old, long-dormant Mountain Business Association, which dissolved in March after members voted unanimously to transfer its $30,000 to the MVP.

Anita Dinello, owner of Rocky Mountain Peddler on Ski Time Square Drive, said she "absolutely" plans to join the MVP. She cited a need to promote base area businesses that have struggled through more than two years of construction. The ongoing base area redevelopment project is continuing this summer with water and sewer line work from Gondola Square to Torian Plum Plaza.

Throughout the multiyear redevelopment project, business owners at the foot of Mount Werner frequently have tried to get the attention of consumers. Dinello repeated that refrain Thursday.

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"We're all here; we're all still here; we're all open," Dinello said about base area businesses. "We need to have a strong group that promotes mountain businesses. We really need the help up here."

That need for action — any action — could be why businesses are buying into the MVP, which charges annual dues ranging from $250 to $1,000, based on annual business revenue.

"Hope is not a plan," Wirth said.

Events on tap

New base area events this summer, promoted by the MVP, include weekly "mountain block parties" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings in Torian Plum Plaza. The block parties began this weekend and include music, extended hours, and food and drink specials at participating restaurants and bars.

On July 8, a weekly farmers market begins in the plaza at One Steamboat Place. The markets will take place every Thursday, MVP spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said.

Block parties and farmers markets are a familiar strategy in Steamboat Springs. Wirth said the MVP is intended to complement — not compete with — efforts of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, which promotes downtown Steamboat businesses, and the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Wirth said in his view, visitors have the best experience in Steamboat when they visit downtown and the mountain area.

"I say it's both; it's not one or the other, in my book," Wirth said.

Luke Dudley, general manager at The Powder Room in Torian Plum Plaza, said the business just signed up for the MVP. He acknowledged that locals and visitors do make choices about where to spend time in Steamboat.

"You don't want to pit it as the mountain against downtown, but a lot of times that's the decision people are making," Dudley said.

Dinello mentioned the "great outpouring of support for downtown" from shoppers during the repaving project on Lincoln Avenue and noted that construction at the base area has been under way for much longer.

"We would ask for the same level of support," she said, asking consumers to "do for us what they did for downtown, which is admirable."

Businesses at the ski base are working hard to earn that support.

The Tugboat Grill & Pub has expanded its outdoor seating area, and Wirth said new features and landscaping on the former site of Ski Time Square could be unveiled early in July.

Steamboat Ski Area began its summer operations Friday, and summer staples such as Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series, Steamboat Springs Running Series and Chamber events are scheduled on Mount Werner in coming days and weeks.

An informational mixer about MVP is July 6, at a time to be announced, at the Truffle Pig restaurant in One Steamboat Place.

Dinello said business owners hope activity turns into sales.

"We're all ready to go, with open arms," she said.

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