Can new alliance strengthen local business scene? |

Can new alliance strengthen local business scene?

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Local business groups seem to have found a way to look closely at their communities and put on a welcoming face to the rest of the world.

The Vail Valley Partnership and the chambers of commerce in Vail, Minturn, Red Cliff Avon, Eagle and Gypsum recently announced the creation of the Vail Valley Merchant Alliance, a group that members hope divides the normal work of business groups into better-defined roles.

That’s something new for the groups, several of which were trying to do the same things just a few years ago.

That old model didn’t work, which led to merchant groups being formed in Eagle and Gypsum, because people in those towns didn’t think the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce was working as well as it could.

Doug Seabury of Eagle was one of the founders of the One Eagle merchant group, which started two years ago to promote businesses in Eagle. That group recently merged with the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce to create the Eagle Chamber of Commerce, an Eagle-only group.

The alliance leaves the community groups to do things like promote businesses, organize community events and monitor and lobby town councils on issues like zoning, sign codes and the like.

The Partnership, meanwhile, is now the only group in the valley that has a reservations system, and is going out to attract events and groups to the valley. The Partnership is also the valley’s voice with various state and national business organizations.

“They do a lot for the valley we could never do,” Seabury said.

For instance, The Show, a giant youth baseball tournament, is coming to the valley this summer, and teams will play on fields between Vail and Gypsum. The Partnership brought The Show to the valley. Now, Seabury said, it’s up to the local chambers to be sure to create events and marketing efforts to make sure people eat or shop while they’re in individual towns for games.

The alliance started with quarterly meetings of representatives from all the valley’s business groups, Partnership executive director Chris Romer said.

“Those meetings helped everyone realize we have more in common,” Romer said. “It makes complete sense to be together.”

And, Seabury said, the times require business groups that might have once duplicated services to think differently.

“When everyone’s hurting, you have to work together,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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