Vail Daily column: Health and wellness as an economic development tool | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Health and wellness as an economic development tool

Chris RomerVail Valley PartnershipVail, CO Colorado

Health and wellness and the associated business opportunities present an economic development tool for our community, as evidenced recently by the town of Vail’s pursuit of a partnership with the Vail Valley Medical Center and the Steadman Clinic.Regardless of politics or any specifics on that particular project, health and wellness are big business in the Vail Valley and they show no sign of going away.The Vail Valley Partnership, at the direction of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council, led the solicitation for a brand research study back in 2007. That process resulted in the selection of Reach Advisors and James Chung. The research conducted by Reach Advisors helped focus Vail, and later other entities within the Vail Valley, to focus on health and wellness as a “pillar” of economic growth and a point of differentiation amongst our competitive set of mountain communities. This was further cemented as an important component of our economy in 2011 as part of the Eagle County Economic Development Plan. Health and wellness have also been highlighted in the Colorado Blueprint as one of 15 business segments targeted for focus in our statewide economic development efforts. The Colorado Blueprint is the state of Colorado’s economic development plan as developed by the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade.Health and wellness, while a somewhat vague term, present an opportunity to our community due to our natural infrastructure and our already existing base of business entities. After all, Vail, and the entire Vail Valley, is home to a variety of successful organizations in the health and wellness field.The good news for the Vail Valley is that health and wellness have a natural tie to our recreational benefits and our tourism industry. And we can work together to enhance our destination as a group and meeting location to target more continuing medical education programs and other medical meetings by promoting our health and wellness infrastructure and by working together.The Vail Valley Partnership has long been involved in tourism promotion of the Vail Valley. Our group sales efforts in 2011 resulted in over 14,500-plus room nights generated, lodging revenue of over $2.6 million and a direct economic impact of more than $10 million. The Partnership attends 30-plus tradeshows and events promoting the destination on an annual basis. A handful of these events specifically target medical meetings, continuing education and the health and wellness community – making the health and wellness focus a natural extension of our already successful efforts.Stay tuned as the Partnership will soon be launching the Vail Valley Health and Wellness Initiative, which will serve as an online clearinghouse for all Vail Valley health and wellness activities and will provide a collaborative structure to this growing business segment. The Health and Wellness Initiative will allow the Vail Valley to build on our recreational base to expand our health/medical education focus, driving higher lodging occupancies and increasing the local collaboration in this important industry.Interested in learning more? If you benefit from the Partnership’s efforts to develop collaboration with health & wellness stakeholders or to drive additional medical meetings to the valley, contact Jeremy Rietmann at 970-477-4012 or via email at jrietmann@visitvailvalley.com Chris Romer is executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership