Letter: It is time for the Chamber to reinvent itself
It is important to acknowledge the remarkable accomplishments of the Steamboat Springs Chamber. Over the past three decades, it can take credit for helping to promote Steamboat as a world-class destination market and to build a year-round economy that most mountain towns would envy. But the success has come at a cost we can no longer ignore.
Thirty years ago, some of our biggest challenges as a community were that we could not sustain businesses in shoulder seasons, our citizens could not maintain jobs year-round, and we needed to boost tourism to solve those problems. Now, because we have been so successful at boosting tourism, we cannot find employees to staff our businesses, the employees we have cannot afford to live here, and the level of tourism has negatively impacted our lives, and frankly, the quality of the experience the visitors have as well. When it comes to destination marketing, we are now truly victims of our own success.
As a resident and business owner, I cannot support any further effort to redirect tax dollars to destination marketing, much less a significant increase like is being proposed. The discussion of repurposing the 2A tax funds to destination marketing will never succeed and demonstrates how out of touch its proponents are with the community. But this should be part of a larger discussion with the Chamber about the role it plays in our community. It is time to re-tool the Chamber, and I am confident that the brilliant men and women on the Chamber staff and Chamber board are up to the task.
This pandemic was a wake-up call for all of us. The real estate boom here in the last year should demonstrate that Steamboat is an incredibly desirable place to call home. This basic fact will not change if the Chamber’s marketing efforts ended tomorrow.
We live in an era now where one viral video has more value in terms of driving business than the entire destination marketing budget the Chamber has at its disposal. Instead of focusing our efforts on bringing more people here, it is now time to shift the focus to maintaining the quality of life we and our visitors enjoy here, which is our biggest appeal.
It is time Chamber resources are spent on supporting the businesses that are struggling to find employees every day in this town, not on the business of bringing more tourism. We already won the tourism campaign; now, it is time to shift focus back to the community and our quality of life.
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Our founding fathers wrestled with the sin of slavery. They knew they needed the manpower of the South to win the war against England, but they were sure that humans were intended to be free.