Steamboat joins local, regional partners in state’s program to aid communities in post-COVID recovery

As communities begin to emerge from the pandemic, the state of Colorado has identified 16 teams for its Rural Resiliency and Recovery Roadmaps program, which will include the city of Steamboat Springs and other local entities.

As part of the program, the state will aid the city and its partners with post-COVID-19 economic recovery efforts. Steamboat is one of 169 rural communities in the state involved in the program. When complete, it is expected to create more than 100 jobs and as much as $50 million in private investments across the communities involved.

A $2.3 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant is funding the program, which falls under the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The program will provide technical assistance for community teams to drive economic relief, recovery, diversification and long-term resilience.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 was especially felt in Colorado’s rural communities, where it exacerbated existing challenges for key industries, businesses and the local workforce,” said Katharina Papenbrock, deputy director of rural opportunity at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

The program is about matching communities with resources, according to Papenbrock, “so that they can advance and realize their short- and long-term economic resiliency strategies.”

Communities were invited to apply to be part of the program earlier this year. The program will unfold through three stages, starting with providing curriculum to connect the regional team and assess the current situation of the communities, then planning and strategizing, and concluding with implementation matchmaking.

The program also received $869,723 in matching funds from the state.

“(The Roadmaps Program) is coming at a time when our local governments need to swiftly recover from the impacts from COVID-19,” said Chantal Unfug, director of DOLA Division of Local Government. “The pandemic has shown that we can govern and do business in a new way.”

Unfug said the program will help ensure coordination regionally, strategically and efficiently, in order to maximize “once-in-a-lifetime stimulus dollars that are flowing into Colorado communities.”

As part of the program, the city’s partners include Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties; the city of Craig; towns of Hayden, Oak Creek, Yampa, Meeker and Rangely; Steamboat Springs Chamber; Craig Chamber of Commerce; Meeker Chamber of Commerce; Colorado Mountain College; Colorado Northwest Community College; Yampa Valley Housing Authority; Main Street Steamboat Springs; and Steamboat Mountain Village Partnership.

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