There are great communities — and great resorts — throughout Colorado and the country. Quality of life for local residents and a memorable vacation experience for guests can be found in many locations. So what makes us different from other resort communities?
The usual thoughts come to mind — a great central location, good access, proactive and engaged local governments, a vibrant nonprofit community, a top-notch ski resort operator, a diverse event platform, an abundance of recreational opportunities, lodging infrastructure, culinary opportunities, a solid and continuously improving school district and numerous other items.
Certainly, there are challenges with some of these items, but overall, we’re fortunate to count on the above (and many other things) in the positive column. Each contributes to our community in their own way. However, many other communities can credibly claim the same benefits. Most every resort community, town, city, region and state across the nation claim to have a great quality of life. So again, what makes us different?
I’m fortunate to spend time with friends and colleagues from various chambers of commerce, destination marketing organizations and other community groups from across Colorado. Consistently, they are surprised by the recognition and support of the business community in this valley. I believe that the difference between the Vail Valley and (fill in the blank community) is a commitment to business vitality.
Here in the Vail Valley, we recognize the importance of the business community to our quality of life. In many other places, business is not looked to as a partner in solving problems facing the community. This is their loss and our benefit because a vibrant and actively engaged business community is, in many ways, the foundation to a successful and thriving community.
Businesses — sometimes viewed as the “bad guy” in an ever-polarized political environment — need to succeed in order for a place to achieve many of the above attributes of a successful community. Economic development efforts at a local level are designed to positively influence economic change. This is expressed in terms of wealth generation, economic diversification, job growth and preservation and building the local tax base.
The Vail Valley business community remains committed and engaged in various economic development efforts including the EGE Air Alliance (supporting flight service from destination markets to the Eagle County Regional Airport) and Vail Valley Partnership’s ongoing economic development implementation efforts (including business retention and expansion programs and various sector partnerships designed to strengthen industry relationships).
Part of what makes this community a great place to live, work and play is the vibrant nonprofit community in the Vail Valley. The business community provides support to our nonprofit community via volunteer time and financial resources. Our nonprofit community would certainly not be as strong and impactful to their constituents without the continued engagement and support of our businesses.
Businesses in our community are also active in a variety of ways to create better workplace environments for their staff members, such as participation in Health Links, a workplace-wellness effort or by providing wellness programs to their employees. It’s not just the workplace environment — numerous businesses are engaged with Actively Green 2015 to become green-certified by implementing sustainable businesses practices, which in many cases saves them money on the bottom line.
These business-led and business-supported efforts impact the entire community in a positive manner and they obviously can’t do it alone. Our pro-business culture resonates throughout our government entities as well. We’re fortunate to have municipal and county governments who generally have a pro-business lean. They recognize the importance of our business community and processes, and structures are designed to get things done. Other communities where local governments set up barriers to business success are not as fortunate.
So what makes us different? It’s clear that our business community and the recognition of the importance of businesses to the community is a differentiator in the Vail Valley.
This attitude — a positive, giving and supportive environment — resonates throughout the community. We recently had a gentleman visit Vail Valley Partnership’s office looking for some maps. Turns out, he is walking from the Atlantic to the Pacific and he’s been at it now for over two months. Unsolicited, he mentioned he had encountered six complete strangers throughout the valley who had offered him a place to stay as he went through town. He declared that this was one of the most-friendly places he had been to since beginning his walk. He also made mention that no other communities in Colorado were as welcoming and nice.
We are pretty lucky to live in a place where passerby’s make comments like that. And we are pretty lucky to work in an area that recognizes the importance of a vital business community to the overall success of our community.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.