Don Rogers: Time for Eagle business community to pull together, keep talking
Vail, CO, Colorado
Eagle’s business-leader discussions began with the chamber hosting a “meet the mayor” event a month ago.
A lot has changed since then through the course of Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. at restaurants across the town.
The Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce director had to resign from his job because there were no longer funds to pay him. Something similar happened in Vail, too, several months ago.
All the chambers are struggling right now with the economic downturn and loss of the merchant ski pass to help attract members. It’s bigger than an individual chamber, whether Vail, the valleywide organization or downvalley.
Of course, the real issue for the communities is how the businesses can best organize for the benefit of everyone, including the consumer.
Chambers and business associations succeed to the degree they further this goal.
So, naturally, because the two are tied, a running discussion about what the Eagle business community can do to better promote itself morphed into how to organize most effectively. And last week at the Grand Avenue Grill, the question came up: Should the 70-year-old Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce exist?
The conclusion of this group was yes, but not without a lot of talk about where the new One Eagle business group best fits and whether it might make the most sense to merge somehow with the Vail Valley Partnership.
I’m still thinking that what makes the most sense is a revamped Eagle Valley Chamber that serves as a bridge between smaller groups, sprouting as if spring had really come, and that downvalley liaison with the Partnership. Also, the chamber has the legal standing in place to accept government funding that can go to specific efforts.
Funding certainly is a difficult piece. Dues alone won’t get this done, and the vulnerability of the merchant-pass deal to attract members was exposed when Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass turned out to be the better deal.
I believe local governments need to participate with steady funding streams specifically to help the chambers help their business communities. Strong chambers will help strengthen active business communities. It should be enough alone to fund the chambers; the key must remain active participation by the membership.
Anyway, Eagle’s business-community conversation continues today from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Eagle Diner. Pull up a chair, buy some lunch, and take part in what I think is a much-needed discussion that will evolve to action that benefits Eagle, the downvalley area and quite possibly the whole valley.
Granted, the exchange of ideas can get chaotic, but it’s well worth the investment as the business folks move inexorably from talk to action.
These small businesses, as well as the larger ones certainly, make up the economic engine that powers our governments and communities. The healthier and smoother-running the engine, the better our quality of life will be in the long run.
So helping the entities that can help our businesses thrive is crucial. And, of course, the business leaders have to pull together, as well.
Don Rogers is the editor and publisher of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at 970-748-2920 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He welcomes your comments.