Vail Daily column: Health and wellness in our backyard |

Vail Daily column: Health and wellness in our backyard

Chris RomerVail Valley PartnershipVail, CO Colorado

Health & Wellness continues to gain momentum and recognition as a potential growth economic development opportunity not just locally, but on a regional and state wide level.The state Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) is incorporating health and wellness into the state brand with a goal for Colorado to be the healthiest state in the nation. With more than 253,000 health and wellness workers across the state and an $11.3 billion annual payroll, the health and wellness industry has a compelling economic impact within Colorado. OEDIT has also included Health & Wellness as one of its 15 key focus industries as part of the Colorado Blueprint (state economic development plan) and is hiring a manager to oversee this area of Colorado’s economic development.Locally, the Town of Vail continues to focus on Health & Well-Being via the development of the new municipal site in partnership with Vail Valley Medical Center and through an ongoing focus on special events. Town of Vail funding for events such as the Vail Symposium’s Living at Your Peak program (September 13-15) further support the development of Health & Wellness as an economic driver. The Vail Valley Partnership has been working with local stakeholders in the Health & Wellness fields to increase local collaboration and awareness of this important business segment. The Partnership team is also actively recruiting medical meetings and continuing education programs to host their groups in the Vail Valley.One collaborator in this effort is Eagle County Public Health, which is offering a new worksite wellness challenge to local businesses to bring attention to what we can do here locally to “walk the walk” of health and wellness – and reap the benefits. While our area offers a lot to the destination visitor in the way of world-class health services and a relaxing natural environment in which to replenish and refresh, we live and work here every day and face the same obstacles – rising healthcare costs, absenteeism and employee engagement – that other business communities do. According to global human resources consulting firm Aon, “A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce, able to focus more of its energy on the job at hand and is less likely to take time off because of illness.” Businesses that actively encourage positive health habits reduce the costs of treatment and increase employee engagement and loyalty. Eagle County Public Health’s (ECPH) program has the following goals:• To educate business owners about the value and cost-savings to be found in wellness programs• To recognize local businesses for their commitment to employee wellness• To provide support and guidance for local businesses looking to improve wellness offerings – and target the cost savings, improved morale, and reduced absenteeism that often results.Local businesses will have three months to demonstrate their commitment to employee wellness by engaging employees around any or all of four focus areas: physical activity, healthy eating, stress/mental health, and tobacco use. ECPH will provide technical assistance to participating businesses during the program period and will encourage a ‘healthy’ competition between the participating businesses by setting weekly target goals that if reached, will increase a business’s odds of winning a great raffle prize to reward employees for their participation. Businesses will submit a brief final synopsis describing what they did to promote employee wellness which will contribute to the number of tickets awarded to each business for the grand prize drawing.Throughout the challenge, participating businesses will be featured in VVP and other local media channels to showcase their commitment to wellness.For further program information or to sign your business up, please contact Jamie Pfahl (Public Health Associate) at 970-328-8808.Health & Wellness as an economic development tool has positive momentum on a variety of levels and continues to show strength as a growth opportunity to diversify our local economy. The Vail Valley Partnership (VVP) is a regional leader in sustaining & enhancing the Vail Valley as a tourism destination and as a place to do business by contributing to the identity and economic well being of the Eagle River Valley. Learn more about us, including our Health & Wellness Initiative, at Romer is executive director of the Vail Valley Partnership

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