Ramblings from Eagle/Gypsum’s chamber guy | VailDaily.com

Ramblings from Eagle/Gypsum’s chamber guy

Tim Cochrane
Eagle County, CO, Colorado

Ramblings from down valley’s chamber guy


Use bug ” Eagle Valley Chamber – Tim Cochrane mug is in local > column mugs


Having recently returned from the Western Association of Chamber Executives, annual meeting I wanted to share some timely thoughts on our current state of the economy.

Some 400 chamber leaders gathered at the meeting’s kic- off session. The speaker was a motivational type who was billed as an expert. He was so good I can’t remember his name, but his message is clear and very timely.

We started with several chambers telling their stories. One woman spoke of how her town was hit with 2,500-person layoff, closing the area’s main business. As she talked about the effect that is having on her community, I thought, “Hmm… Eagle and Gypsum are still pretty well off.”

The President of the Las Vegas chamber next told us about how she had to lay off 18 people right at Christmas, as the gaming tax wasn’t producing the necessary funding. Later I discovered the true impact ” 32 staffers ultimately lost their jobs.

I only had one employee and I had to lay her off in January. Poor me.

Several others spoke and I tried to relate. That last guy didn’t have the ski company pull the main membership benefit like we did and he was still down 40 percent in renewals. Whats going on here?

Our speaker then had us stand up and shout “that’s enough whining!” Then we shouted louder because he couldn’t hear us. Now he had our attention, and went on to ask how many thought we had caused the country’s economic woes. No one volunteered. Then he asked how many of us felt responsible for the devastating effect the economy had our chamber? All hands up.

“Wrong!” he barked, adding that we are only responsible for leading our chamber and business communities out of this mess.

“Like what?” I shouted. “We are doing everything we can.”

Here are his answers and I ask each of you reading this to think about what you as a member of our community can do to help.

Each chamber has the responsibility of being an advocate for its business community. I feel we have the duty to our neighbors and our greater community. Here the things the Eagle Valley Chamber is advocating during this period of recovery.

– Shopping locally is not enough. We are past that feel-good slogan. How about planning to spend $10 once a week at a different restaurant for lunch? That amount will help keep the door open and the tip may well save a job for your neighbor. Be proactive.

– While we are waiting for the big box malls to save our towns we must act now. Building costs are at an all-time low. Now is the time to do those projects you’ve been putting off. If you act and hire a local tradesman you’ll get great workmanship and he’ll get to put food on the table.

– Local government needs to help, by creating that economic development task force you talked about last spring. Get creative. Challenge the businesses to work together for the greater good.

Your chamber is here to help. How about some serious dialogue? Are there projects that could happen if we get a little more serious about infill?

Get creative, but do not ” I repeat, do not ” just hand out money. The feds are going to try that. We can’t wait.

– Hire local companies. Why are we spending $24 million on a justice center in Eagle and the contractors are from Grand Junction? The same company is doing the high school work in Gypsum. Find a project and let’s get some people to work right here.

– Let’s identify several community projects. This community built a park in seven days with 700 volunteers. What’s next? By working together we establish relationships for life. Help out your neighbor shovel out the crud left by the snow plow.

We are isolating and pulling in the wagons a little too tight. Now is the time to get active lend a hand at the new community dinner each Monday.

All I am saying is that if you’re waiting for a personal bailout, it isn’t coming. I called the president ” he has his hands full. We are a community of amazing people, so let’s get going! Call or e-mail if you’re up to the challenge. Call your elected officials ” tell them we need a local project to get us stated.

But whatever you do, no more whining!

Tim Cochrane is president and CEO of the Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce. Call the chamber at 970-328-5220.

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