Vail Daily editorial: Good steps by VR | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily editorial: Good steps by VR

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

There was good news last week from Vail Resorts’ corporate offices in Broomfield. The company pledged $30 million to help with employee housing projects in communities where it does business. It also announced the creation of a new foundation to help employees in need.

Let’s start with housing and an acknowledgment. The fact is, while $30 million sounds like a lot of money — and it is, if you’re just a working schmoe — $30 million alone won’t build much. In fact, $30 million is the price tag of Vail’s new underpass.

Still, Vail Resorts should be praised for its commitment. The ski company isn’t going to work alone on housing — nor should it. But spreading $30 million among the resort company’s communities will be a real shot in the arm for projects both currently envisioned and yet to be born.

Locally, it would be nice to have a few million new dollars to put toward, say, a Freedom Park-sized project in Eagle-Vail on property currently owned by the State Land Board. Something built there — near, or partially on, the property now occupied by the Homestake Peak School — could perhaps be a combination of apartments and deed-restricted condos. A project there would provide housing that’s convenient to jobs in both Vail and Beaver Creek. Vail, Avon, Eagle County and the Eagle County school district would presumably all be willing participants in a project there, since the location is convenient to the valley’s main economic centers.

A new project takes a lot of time, energy, money and political will. The will is probably here again, given that some employers say the current housing crunch is worse than the one we experienced in the last decade. A cash and idea infusion from the resort company could possibly goose a good proposal off the drawing board and into reality.

Perhaps just as significant is the company’s creation of its new EpicPromise Foundation. That foundation, to be funded with a $500,000 annual contribution from the company and a one-time donation of $1.5 million from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz, has laid out a noble mission: helping employees in “times of need” and to help fund educational scholarships.

There was much local pooh-poohing when Katz last year announced the company would raise its company-wide minimum wage to $10 an hour. That local scoffing was because the de facto minimum wage in the valley was already at least at the $10 level. But the critics also didn’t account for the company’s pay rates in other markets.

EpicPromise is different. People from lift operators to executives can face hard times. And the continually rising cost of higher education is a national scandal.

People in company towns often have little good to say about the company. That’s normal. But our valley’s dominant company deserves genuine praise for its actions last week. We’re eager to see the results.