Big event won’t save Eagle until people have money to spend |

Big event won’t save Eagle until people have money to spend

Joe and Sara Keegan
Eagle, CO, Colorado

Money’s tight right now

I am writing in response to the article regarding “Will events take too long to help Eagle?”

We are the owners of a small catering company located in Eagle. We started our company knowing that we could not depend solely on local clients to support us. Early on, we realized the importance of diversity in order to keep things going in a seasonal environment.

After nine years in Eagle, we are proud to say that we have established a great local clientele and we are forever grateful for their support, especially in these economic times. That being said, our ongoing success has mostly relied on the kindness of strangers; i.e., the second-home owner, big investment bankers, underwriters of mortgage backed securities, the owner of the $35,000 antique commode, CEOs, CFOs, etc., who travel to our beautiful valley to enjoy the wonderful place we are lucky enough to call home.

In our efforts to diversify, we also provide catering services to general aviation clients at the Vail Valley Jet Center, an important contributor to our local economy. If you didn’t know, general aviation is an industry that is under attack by the very people we vote into office to serve and protect our basic interests as elected officials.

Despite the fact that the United States is the leader in private aviation, employs hundreds of people locally and hundreds of thousands countrywide and contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy, many are being punished for the bad decisions and leadership of a few.

I am sure you get the picture. Like everyone, we are trying our best to weather the storm. We are not making any unnecessary purchases, at work or at home, and the most difficult decision of all, letting go of staff and cutting labor hours.

Although these decisions are what is best for our business, they have an increasingly negative impact on our local economy, as does the announcement of Vail Resorts, one of the county’s largest employers, implementing companywide pay cuts, coupled with credit lines being closed, resetting of home loans and the complete standstill of the local construction and real estate industry.

Bottom line, we just do not think there is much discretionary income left at the end of the day to spend on that shirt from Everyday Outfitters, or that light fixture from Lights on Broadway and certainly not catering from Occasionally Keegan.

Although the idea of bringing a large show or festival to Eagle is great, it would only be a temporary Band-Aid for the real long-term problems we all face valleywide. A $40,000 marketing plan or free promotional spot is not going to inspire people to spend money they no longer have.

Although we have always felt that Eagle’s assets and facilities were under utilized, a big event such as Westfest or an expensive marketing plan is just not appropriate at this time. The approach we have to take as business leaders in our community has to be broader, more immediate and most importantly, long term.

A good first step toward recovery is to encourage our local and commercial banking institutions to support local businesses and homeowners.

Without the support of our local lending institutions, we are sure to fail in this economy. Opening up credit lines, refinancing mortgages and business credit would inspire confidence, improve cash flow and discretionary income for everyone as well as maintain our home values. We think the rewards for the local financial institutions would far outweigh the risks. How much money would begin to re-circulate locally if it wasn’t being paid out to some mega bank in Delaware? Simple economics – if local banks were in the business of making loans to its local consumers, perhaps they could keep their employees employed and so could the myriad of local businesses affected by this crisis.

In the words of Jack Welch, “without credit we do not have a financial system to support an economy.” All of the great ideas we may come up with collectively at our local business forum meeting will not amount to a hill of beans if we don’t have the financial support that allows for discretionary expenditures. Our success as a community can only be achieved starting with our local and commercial lending institution’s willingness to step-up to the financial challenges facing our great community! Everyone stands to prosper when we support our neighbor in good times and bad.

Joe and Sara Keegan Eagle

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