Does Eagle need a marketing district?
Eagle, CO, Colorado
EAGLE ” Eagle, Colorado, needs an image.
Residents might think of the county seat as their home. Others may think of it as the county seat, or where the county fair is held every year. But not many people think of the town as a place to shop, dine or play.
That could change if a drive to create an economic development group bears fruit. The effort is barely a couple of weeks old, but is already gathering momentum. A mid-afternoon meeting between business owners and Eagle Mayor Ed Woodland last week drew a couple of dozen people, and a follow-up meeting is set for Thursday at Fiesta Jalisco along Chambers Avenue.
The goal is to have the skeleton of a plan built in the next 30 days Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Tim Cochrane said.
So far, there’s growing support for some kind of volunteer board, with a paid marketing personal carrying out the board’s orders. But Cochrane has made it clear that board, and not the chamber, would be the leaders of any project. And Woodland said the idea of a marketing person on the town staff wouldn’t fly, either.
So what are the chamber and town’s roles?
“The merchants aren’t a legal entity, so they can’t legally take tax money,” Cochrane said. The chamber can administer any public money that’s received.”
On the subject of public money, Cochrane said the town might be able to match private contributions with a one-time grant. But in the long run, there would have to be some kind of steady source of money.
There’s money available, but only if Eagle voters approved using some of the town’s current lodging fee for marketing. First imposed several years ago, the $2 per night fee on every occupied hotel room in town was supposed to be dedicated to open space acquisition and preservation.
The fee ” it was never called at “tax” in order to pass muster with the state’s constitution ” brings in about $100,000 per year, and there’s about $1 million in the open space account. That sounds like a lot of cash, but $1 million won’t buy much open space in Eagle County.
A successful petition drive could possibly land a question like that on the county’s election ballot this fall.
Whatever eventually happens with finding money, Kelly Malin said it’s time to act. Malin, co-owner of The Kind Bikes and Skis in Eagle Ranch, said whatever business development plan comes out of the current meetings, it needs to have a strong “shop local” component.
At last week’s meeting at the Broadway Cafe, Malin said the Eagle shop has plenty of repair business for people who bought their gear elsewhere.
But, reached on her cell phone Monday before a bike near Fruita, Malin also said that Eagle needs some kind of image.
“Eagle really doesn’t have an identity outside of town,” Malin said. “There has to be some kind of focus that this is what we’re going to be about.
“We have a huge opportunity as a great cycling community, but there are a lot of people around town who want to keep their ‘private’ trails,” she added.
Cochrane said mountain bikers, kayakers and others generally come to a place, play, buy a meal or two, maybe some gasoline, and then head out. But, he said, those meals and other purchases add up.
At the Silver Leaf Suites, general manager Mike Courtney said he’d like any economic development effort to also focus on bringing overnight visitors to town.
The town has a growing list of events, Cochrane said, from an indoor bull-riding event next month at the Eagle River Center at the county fairgrounds, to a planned truck show in the fall.
“We need to do both (kinds of marketing),” Courtney said, “When we take care of each other, it will take care of all of us.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s being discussed? An economic development council for Eagle.
What will it look like? That’s still being figured out.
Who will pay for it? Again, up in the air, but the possibility is some kind of public/private funding.
Could town open space funds be used? Only if residents vote to approve it?
When might that happen? It could be as soon as this fall.