Gypsum hires Jeremy Rietmann as economic development director
GYPSUM — To shepherd its new economic development push, the town of Gypsum has hired someone who knows a thing or two about this valley’s financial assets and drawbacks. Jeremy Rietmann, business development director for the Vail Valley Partnership for the past five years, has been hired as Gypsum’s new economic development director.
Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll noted that there were a number of great candidates who applied for the town’s newly created economic development position, but Rietmann’s background and his familiarity with the area put him at the top of the town’s list.
“I feel like we just signed Von Miller, without the $70 million up front payment,” said Shroll.
Rietmann is equally enthused about his new gig.
“I think that Gypsum offers a lot of opportunities and has a vision for what it is and what it wants to be,” said Rietmann.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, when governments started launching economic development efforts, the job involved luring businesses to communities. That idea still holds, but the efforts look a lot different today.
Back in the day, an economic development director might spend his or her time courting a big box retailer or a manufacturing firm, selling a specific community as the perfect spot to build. In today’s world, where brick and mortar retail options are shrinking and internet commerce is exploding, Rietmann said economic development is focused more making sure communities can provide the assets that today’s entrepreneurs need.
To that end, Rietmann said he will work to evaluate what the town has to offer, build a strong customer service philosophy and monitor the global economy to make sure what Gypsum is doing fits in with what the larger market needs.
“You aren’t sitting in a vacuum in Gypsum,” Rietmann said. “Things have just changed too much in the last 10 years regarding what is possible and realistic with small towns.”
For many people, all they need to perform their jobs is secure high-speed internet access. Rietmann said Gypsum, and other small towns, need to focus on providing adequate bandwidth for these workers and then concentrate on something basic — making sure their communities are places where people want to live.
That’s what economic development looks like in 2016, Rietmann said.
Now, more than ever, Rietmann believes the various communities in Eagle County are learning that they get farther by working together. That means every town needs to embrace what it is and build on that foundation, he said.
“The Gypsum Town Council knows their town is a bedroom community and it’s not a dirty word at all. It means they have a great quality of life and people want to live there,” said Rietmann.
That’s a great asset as Gypsum looks at economic development, he said.
“I think that Gypsum’s location, smack dab in the middle of Colorado, is amazing,” said Rietmann. He also cited the community’s access to transportation portals including Interstate 70 and the Eagle County Regional Airport as a boon, along with its proximity to the upvalley resort communities.
While Gypsum has all that to offer, it is also a more reasonably priced housing market, said Rietmann.
The community is also a valley melting pot, he continued. Kids from six public elementary and middle schools all wind up at Gypsum’s Eagle Valley High School, he noted. There, families from throughout the valley eventually bond together.
“I come to this job with a regional perspective,” said Rietmann. “There should be a positive, symbiotic relationship between Gypsum and Eagle.”
Rietmann will begin work with Gypsum Aug. 8 and his first efforts will be directed toward participation in the Gypsum master planning process that is currently under way.
“In developing the community master plan, they want a voice from a business/entrepreneurial mindset,” he said. “We need to identify what are the key things this community is going to need to be successful in the future.”
As he starts that work, he plans to ask a lot of questions, get a lot of advice and identify key needs. Some of that work has already been done, as Gypsum has set identification of a downtown core and efforts to improve the appearance and increase the allure of the town’s I-70 exit as priorities.
“I think there are opportunities for people to create and explore unique experiences in this community,” said Rietmann. “But unless you get off the highway, you don’t know what’s available here.”
This town’s most controversial issue in years may be resolved Tuesday.