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Local college building tools for professionals

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Amy Morrison has spent a career in a world dominated by print. After moving to the Vail Valley, she decided she needed new skills and went back to school to find them.

Morrison, who owns Fun Consultants, a sales and marketing company in Eagle, has taken several “professional development” classes from Colorado Mountain College.

“You can learn at an affordable price,” Morrison said. “And you can learn from renowned professors.”



Morrison recently took a “Facebook for Business” class online. The instructor was Jennifer Selke, of the University of California at Berkeley. Classes can be taken live or at a student’s convenience, which can make a big difference to someone who’s already holding down a full-time job.

A couple of years ago, Trevor Theelke took a class for entrepreneurs at the college. He went in already owning a business and came out with an idea for another venture. He’s doing all that in addition to his job at Land Title Guarantee Co.



“I think the classes are fantastic,” Theelke said. “I take as many as I can. Each one gives you something new – even the ones you’ve taken before.”

While there’s already a good number of development classes at the college, Kim Blackford, the customized business services director at the Edwards campus, is always looking for more ways to help the valley’s professionals.

The college recently launched a green building program that can train architects, construction managers and others in ways to incorporate LEED building techniques into new and existing projects. Local construction company R.A. Nelson and Associates has already sent five people through the program.



“People generally have to go somewhere to take those classes,” Blackford said. “We want people to stay local and do this – that’s truly sustainable.”

What Blackford is interested in, though, is trying to find ways to get local professionals together with successful people who visit the valley or might own second homes here. Some of those people in the past have agreed to either mentor students or teach classes, and Blackford is looking for more.

While college programs are well-received when pitched to specific industries, Blackford said she’d like to reach out to more professionals. She’s using contacts in the Vail Valley Partnership and other sources to let professionals know there are resources available close to home that can help sharpen or upgrade someone’s skills.

Beyond that, Blackford said she’s looking forward to a day when people from other areas come to Eagle County to learn new skills.

“People can learn a lot about building in cold climates by coming here,” she said.

To do that, though, Blackford needs to hear from people about what they want.

“Besides our ‘career’ classes (such as culinary arts), we have professional development and personal enrichment classes,” Blackford said. “We’re really focusing on professional development right now. Talk to me – tell me what you need.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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