Sustainability Tip: How Eagle County’s economy can come back quickly
Special to the Daily
Sixty-five percent of nearly 2,400 Colorado businesses reported recovery expectations of more than three months to return to pre-COVID-19 levels once social distancing requirements are loosened. Twenty-five percent expect more than one year to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels. While reopening has given some businesses hope, and others continued doubt, the past 96 days have only begun the long journey to recovery after coronavirus put our economy on pause. Now, patience is our “vaccine:” Patience will help heal our economy one step at a time.
Too quickly disregard this caution for patience, and your business may experience the same fate as 12 eager businesses that failed to abide by coronavirus restrictions: Bass Pro Shop in Denver and C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock violated stay-at-home orders issued by their respective cities by prematurely reopening their doors to the public, and were shut down in perpetuum. Rather than following the impatient and regretful, practice patience by attempting the three strategies elaborated upon below, and recite the following words from Eagle County government while checking your bank account.
Our county has the opportunity not only to come back, but to come back stronger than ever before. Here’s how.
- Acknowledge and understand the baseline impact of your business. As COVID-19 has shown us, business can change from prosperous to poor in the blink of an eye: 42% of Colorado businesses experienced a decline in sales greater than 50% during the first month of restrictions. Better understanding your business’s operations could give you the advantage you need to stay afloat rather than shut down, temporarily or forever.
- Energy efficiency rebate programs that exist widely across the country can save their small businesses a collective range of $227,000 to $11 million annually.
- In Vail, improving and expanding waste diversion could save individual hotels between $10,000 and $90,000 (based on size) annually. Applying similar strategies as that of the San Francisco Hilton, which saved $200,000 in their first year, could save hotels even more.
- Businesses are expected to be able to more quickly identify and stop leaks just by signing up for Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s new WaterSmart tool, as well as save 5% of their water expenditures.
- Pivot to address a changing world. Utilize this time to grow and diversify your business by investing in learning more about the concerns, priorities, interests and needs of the Eagle Valley community. Connect with customers more thoroughly, find your niche among other local businesses, read recent studies and research local statistics to inform necessary innovation and change. According to the Vail Valley Partnership and Josh Knauer, presenter of the recent webinar Business Survival Tactics During Coronavirus, these strategies will build customer loyalty, stimulate innovation, and provide an effective marketing strategy during this and other crises.
- Despite climate being less prominent in news media during the pandemic, a recently published survey analyzing American public opinion reveals “the majority of Americans see climate change as a clear and present threat to the health of people in their community.” Previously, Americans “accepted the reality of climate change but saw it as a distant problem,” both geographically and generationally. Now, climate change has become as significant an issue in the American mind. Climate change, like coronavirus, is “a threat that’s come home.” No better time than now that our tourist economy hears tourists’ increasing expectations for prioritization of sustainability by incorporating it fully into business operations. Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/ag to get started.
- Plan for Coronavirus 2.0, the plague and global catastrophe. About five to seven weeks into the shutdown of our economy, the majority of Colorado businesses had changed some aspect of their operations in response to the circumstances of that time. Nineteen percent of Colorado businesses reportedly began community discussions regarding rent abatement and mortgage relief to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on their employees. Forty-seven percent had begun brainstorming and sharing experiences regularly with fellow local businesses; 51% had moved business online; and 14% had started offering carryout or delivery. All of them were forced to adapt in these ways; however, regardless of these adaptations, 76% of these businesses (that were not completely shut down due to COVID-19 — 59% of all businesses) believed they would not be able to sustain themselves for more than one year.
- Setting your expectation of risk low — that a public health issue could never put the entire world’s economy on pause — is not a favorable or advisable mentality to maintain moving forward. The absence of any assessment of risk, whether mildly threatening or fatally jeopardizing, means your business is vulnerable. This is not only irresponsible; it is not in your own self-interest. Setting higher risk and crisis expectations — that the unexpected is inevitable — will allow your business, at best, to be overly prepared in the event that a lower risk scenario comes to fruition. Considering the chance we’ve been given to witness the most unexpected risk play out, it is unfortunately expected that only 9% of Colorado businesses will be prepared in the event of future crises.
Kate Manzer is the sustainability programs coordinator for Actively Green at Walking Mountains Science Center. Contact her at email@example.com.