Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Leadership council seeks to guide our future (column)
Our community demographics are changing, and our population is growing. Last week, we explored the great progress that has been made the past 20 years in terms of local infrastructure, amenities, and resources. But the past is the past, and the real question is how we plan to address the opportunity presented to us — collectively — to recognize our demographic changes and growth, and to determine what we want Eagle County to look like in 20 years and beyond.
Eagle County has very real challenges associated with changing demographics and continued population growth. Our main challenge for the next 20 years can be summed up as how to maintain our quality of life while faced with continued growth.
A quick overview of our changing demographics provides a synopsis of our challenge: Eagle County’s population is currently one of Colorado’s youngest, but is rapidly aging. While the youth, 18 to 25, and 46 to 60-year-old segments of the population remain constant at 25 percent, 8 percent, and 19 percent of the total population, respectively, state demographers are predicting a decline in the “family age” group of 26 to 45-year-olds, from almost 40 percent of the total in 2005 to about 24 percent by the year 2035. The older population, 61 and above, is expected to grow markedly, forecasted to comprise 22 percent of the total by 2035.
It will not be easy, but we can glimpse a path that will allow Eagle County to keep growing and result in a positive-sum future. We need a continued community commitment to steward economic development efforts by reinforcing the interdependency of the various communities and municipalities within the Vail Valley region to position our community as not only a great place to live and work, but also a great place to do business. Addressing the “big four” issues (housing, transit/transportation, broadband, and workforce development) in a meaningful way will help define our future.
There is a way to get involved and help shape our future; the Economic Development Leadership Council is a volunteer group of geographically diverse business leaders from various industries, nonprofit leaders and public officials from local entities who help formulate key policies and strategic goals and who steward the economic development effort in the Vail Valley. This group helps provide strategic vision to the economic development plan, provides feedback on programmatic efforts, and serves in an advisory capacity.
Participation is open to any community member, and diverse representation ensures Eagle County community and business interests are represented in an active and professional manner. The Leadership Council meets quarterly to help ensure local facilitation and coordination of economic development efforts and business community support services provided by the Partnership are meeting the needs of our communities. The efforts of this group help reduce friction between government and the business community, and ensures provides feedback on local, regional or state level economic issues.
The Advisory Council is a resource and sounding board for the Partnership related to regional economic development efforts, and is designed to be an interactive and participatory effort. The Advisory Council will provide advisement on issues at hand and will focus in 2018 at identifying a SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results) analysis for the community to help provide a vision of the future for our economic development programming.
Be part of a community solution to help define economic develop efforts moving forward. Community members interested in volunteering for the Economic Development Leadership Council are encouraged to learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com/join/economic-development-leadership-council.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.
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