Vail Valley: How can the state help the tourism industry?
Over the past weeks I have been involved in some pretty heated political discussions. It seems everyone has an opinion and wants it to be heard. I’m also not here to promote any political agenda or idea, but I will promote discussion. Discussion or level-headed debate generates a thought process that in turn creates a venue that positive and productive ideas will come from.It was in one of these recent discussions the question was raised about how the state can do a better job from an economic development standpoint. Talk about opening up the floodgates – more ideas got thrown out than I can remember.Walking into this I had a few ideas that I felt were important to our business community, the first being the marketing or promotion of the state, the second being better ways to support small businesses and an entrepreneurial spirit, and third how to develop more professional jobs in our area.The Colorado Tourism Office is part of the Colorado Office of Economic Development. Over the past few years, as I’m sure many of you may know, the funding levels for the tourism office have had major fluctuations. Tourism is a major industry in Colorado and will continue to be. If Colorado wishes to continue to have an economy that is tourism driven, then a consistent and continued level of funding needs to be achieved. The tourism office needs to be assured that it has the dollars to continue marketing Colorado as a great place to vacation, or for that matter, a great place to live.A small business is often defined as a company that has less than $25 million in revenues, fewer than 100 employees and is usually a privately owned corporation. Many of the businesses in and around our area are classified as small businesses, and they are the backbone of our local economy. We need to make sure they can survive these tough economic times and that we offer ways to encourage new businesses. While this is easier said than done, some recommendations include combining state support and venture capital to create a pool of funds to help underwrite business loans, ensuring a source of funds that business will then be able to tap into. Another way is to provide tax credits for new businesses to assist in reducing start-up expenses. Many places around the state, such as Vail, aren’t inexpensive areas to live in, but offer a high quality of life. To create a more sustainable local economy, we need to have mechanisms in place locally and state-wide that will help create or promote professional industries. I thought these were all very good points and on the surface they were positive ideas. But at the end of the day, how are they going to be funded? As we know the state is not in the position to take on more expenditure. I’m sure we would all agree that any new taxes are not going to fly. So, to quote a business adage, “Bring me solutions, not problems.” What are the funding solutions we can use or leverage to help our small businesses? The Vail Chamber & Business Association would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on how to develop a better business environment. The Vail Chamber & Business Association is the leading business advocacy group in Vail and is a communications outlet for businesses that want to have a voice in community affairs. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vail Chamber and what it has to offer, please contact us at 970-477-0075 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Based in Vail Village, our office is located in the transportation center and our doors are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Stop by and say hello!Richard tenBraak is Executive Director of the Vail Chamber & Business Association