Make our economy stronger |

Make our economy stronger

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

The Vail Valley has mostly escaped the spate of foreclosures and plummeting home values that real estate markets elsewhere are experiencing. Still, the local market is pretty flat. Homes in the “attainable” price ranges are staying on the market longer than they have in awhile. More homebuyers are having trouble qualifying for home loans than before.

We’ll get out of this real estate slump over time, sure. But it’s safe to say that much of what makes the Vail Valley’s economy successful is somewhat out of our control. If we get a lot of snow, the ski season will be great and businesses will be busy. If we don’t get a lot of snow, well, we hope that it’s at least more snow than the next resort.

The real estate and development industries, where so many of this valley’s good-paying, middle-class-supporting jobs are, can be just as uncontrollable.

Despite the lack of foreclosures here, the foreclosures and defaulted loans elsewhere are making our market pretty soft.

There is a legitimate desire by many of our local leaders to bring more good-paying jobs to the valley, and to recruit and boost industries that aren’t subject to the whims of weather and Wall Street.

The Vail Valley already has some fine medical facilities. From the often-touted Steadman Hawkins orthopedic clinic anchored at the Vail Valley Medical Center, to the independent Vail-Summit Orthopedics center, to the Shaw Cancer Center, we already have a strong and successful medical industry upon which to build. The Vail Valley Medical Center seems to have their eye on that as they contemplate moving much of the hospital’s services downvalley, which could give Steadman Hawkins room to grow. We are eager to see the healthcare industry expand here, and with it, the number of professional, good-paying jobs increase as well.

Technology is on our side here. We already have new residents who have moved here but still telecommute for their jobs elsewhere. That will likely increase over time.

As a world-renowned resort and an attractive place for successful and intelligent individuals to visit and live in, Vail also has the potential to expand and build on programs like the Vail Symposium and the Vail Valley Institute, which are part of the “learning culture” ” for lack of a better word. There is some real, underdeveloped potential in that segment of our valley’s economy. Just looking at what Aspen has been able to do with its Aspen Institute gives us an idea of what the Vail Valley could achieve.

There are real obstacles to diversifying our economy. The price of land is prohibitive for most industries, housing is too expensive for many. But Vail has the resources to tackle the challenge of making our economy more vibrant, more diverse and more bullet-proof. All we need are the leaders to take that vision and put it into action.

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