Vail Daily column: Supporting our business community | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Supporting our business community

Rural resort communities such as the Vail Valley face real challenges. Our reliance on tourism as an economic driver creates workforce housing shortages, seasonal cash flow fluctuations and high cost of services.

Increasing economic diversity can help a region such as ours weather the storms of economic downturns and create more primary jobs, thus reducing dependency on tourism. To be clear, tourism is a major strength and we should continue to embrace our leading industry. We simply wouldn’t exist without it. That said, diversifying the economy has long been a goal of elected officials, chamber of commerce professionals and others. It’s been sought for so long in the Vail Valley that it’s almost viewed like a unicorn — we’d all love to find it, but it doesn’t seem to exist.

The reality is there is a groundswell of entrepreneurism in the valley and there are businesses proving that success is possible. I encourage you to view a small sampling of these organizations at www.vailvalleymeans business.com/success-stories.

One consistent trend, regardless of industry or location, is that businesses and entrepreneurs need a support network. Enter Vail Valley Economic Development, an initiative of Vail Valley Partnership. Our joint efforts are designed to provide this support network to help ensure the valley’s economic health for years to come.

We work to help existing businesses thrive and to assist new businesses. We provide businesses with networking, educational and collaborative opportunities. The goal is to strengthen our local business community and create an environment for businesses to succeed and thrive.

Together, we work in the following areas to facilitate an environment that is receptive to entrepreneurs and to connect businesses to resource partners:

• Marketing an Eagle County business brand. Brand development for Vail Valley Economic Development has been completed, and the new website http://www.VailValleyMeans Business.com has been launched with a variety of business resources, programs, research and tools.

• Refinement and growth of MyPartner Career Network. We are currently building program participation and to assist businesses with employee retention and support via the MyPartner Career Network, designed to make it easier for local businesses to recruit and retain great employees by helping find employment when needed, for spouses or partners of prospective employees to help their families better integrate into our community.

• Roll-out of inclusive business listings on VisitVail Valley.com and VailValleyPartnership.com. We are offering complimentary business listings to all businesses within the Vail Valley across our Web platforms. This service provide a comprehensive list of businesses within the valley for visitors, prospective businesses and locals.

• Partnership with American Express’ Small Business Saturday program. Small Business Saturday is celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year’s Small Business Saturday is Nov. 28. Vail Valley Partnership has been selected by American Express to be a “neighborhood champion” for the Vail Valley. We plan to visit all business areas within the valley to distribute Small Business Saturday promotional materials and encourage the local community to support our businesses.

• Development of the Next Emerging Leader Program. Our valley and business community are facing a transitional time as the next generation of community leaders step forward and many industry leaders step back from daily operations and community involvement. Next is a mentorship program designed to develop emerging leaders by connecting them to established community leaders. This program will help emerging leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs connect with the community in a meaningful way.

Vail Valley Economic Development supports local employers, entrepreneurs and communities by providing information, facilitation and advocacy to support the creation and attraction of new equity to Eagle County. We continue to work to solidify an economic base that is strong, diverse and resilient. We provide services to existing and expanding local employers and entrepreneurs and to those who are considering Eagle County as a location for their business.

The Partnership also continues to work to bridge the gap between business and government and to ensure that partners and entrepreneurs are connected with the resources needed to succeed. We are enthused about our momentum and hope you’ll join us in helping create an environment that is conducive to business success.

Chris Romer is president & CEO of Vail Valley Partnership