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Time to tap state expertise

Kaye Ferry

You probably guessed by now that I go to a lot of meetings. So when the invitation came to attend the High Country Republican Speaker Series, my first thought was that enough is enough. But when it came again, I must have been having a weak moment, so I at least read the material. This time I was intrigued. So I made a reservation and went.The speaker was Brian Vogt, director of international trade and economic development for the state of Colorado. He formerly held the position of president of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and before that economic development director for the same organization. So his credentials are impressive. But more important, his current office is in a position to effect major changes for the business landscape in Colorado and more pointedly, for us in Eagle County.He heads up an division in the state government that is charged with bringing new businesses to Colorado and finding new markets for Colorado products, as well as creating more jobs and building a vibrant economy. In this pursuit, he coordinates many departments and functions that include small business development, research, minority and women’s business, bioscience and emerging industries, international trade, tourism and business finance.He threw around a lot of statistics. For example, did you know that one-half of all new businesses that are started are gone within one year? To help address this problem, his office has set up a new business development center where office space is available for start-ups and support is given in the way of training, counseling and mentoring. He also has staff available to help with researching the various needs of communities and matching them with the myriad of requests his agency receives from companies looking for location-relocation options.He believes that there are three areas of focus when devising a good business strategy, whether in private enterprise or the pubic sector. First, you must develop a culture. You need to define who you are and what values you will bring to the table when implementing any business plan. Secondly, communication, to your client, to your employees, to everyone that needs to hear your message. And last but not least, integration, how all the parts meld and work cohesively. Probably the most interesting thing he has to offer, at least from our viewpoint, is a community assessment. At no cost to us, they will come in and do just what the title says, assess the community. What does that mean? A team will study who we are and what we do. They will look at our strengths and weaknesses and evaluate our businesses – what we do well, where the holes are and suggestions for filling them; what are our talents and how we can add value to what we’re already doing.Remember, his office regularly receives requests from businesses looking for places suited for both a start-up of a new business and the relocation of an existing business. Those requests include everything from small think tanks to large and small manufacturing operations. I’ve often said that we don’t go over the pass enough. Somehow we stay here and think we need to reinvent the wheel and solve all of our problems ourselves. This clearly proves that there is help out there, right in our own state, with objectives similar to ours and the ability to do it for free. Vogt’s mission is to find ways to drive the economy of Colorado. While he may not have all of the answers, he’s certainly pointed in the right direction and he’s charged with doing it with our tax dollars. We need to find a way to tap into this energy and expertise.Eagle County, led by Commissioner Tom Stone, is putting together a group to meet and study the resources that Vogt can make available to our area. I will be part of that group and will keep you advised as we move along. I think it represents an interesting exercise for us and a very exciting way of analyzing ourselves and the opportunities that we may be able to access. PARKING: The town Parking Commission met for the first time since last winter. Last year parking was under control for two reasons, not a lot of snow but primarily because Vail Resorts graciously donated the west day lot to the parking pool, thereby significantly decreasing the numbers of days that cars were on the Frontage Road and the numbers of cars on the days that we were out there.This year, the spots available on the west day lot will be cut in half due to the need to use some of that space as a staging area for the new construction in Lionshead. The really good news is that for the first time in recorded history, the recommendation to the Town Council will be to make no changes to last year’s parking plan. The rates in the structures will stay the same. The cost of the various passes will be what they were last year. Locations will remain the same, perhaps with a few additions. The only changes will be in tweaking the parking “meters” on the top level of the structures. Anyone that has ever used them knows there have been some glitches and they’ll be corrected. Additionally, paper receipts will be issued that need to be displayed on the windshields – the same type of system currently used in Denver and Aspen.So nothing new to learn, and nothing extra to pay. We finally didn’t try to fix something that wasn’t broken. Good on us. That’s progress.To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, vaildaily.com-columnists or search:ferry. Ferry writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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