Vail Valley Partnership CEO: Public-private partnership can boost economic development (column)
Today’s governments are expected to do not only streets and public safety, but tourism, job creation, marketing and education. I can’t think of any organization that can do all of that. A local government should perform the tasks that it’s best at, and hire experts to handle the others. Do it right and you’ll get the best result possible for your citizens.
A public–private partnership is a cooperative arrangement between two or more public and private sectors. A public-private partnership is a type of contract whereby the public partner delegates some of its responsibilities to a private partner under a contract that defines the obligations of each party during the term of the partnership.
Governments are increasingly turning to the private sector for contract services. Facing constraints on financial resources, and to help their economies grow, public entities turn to private entities to solve community issues.
These contracts between government and businesses or not-for-profits accomplish what neither side can do alone — regional economic development work, air service development, special event production, group sales efforts — when funds are limited. Public-private partnerships are done in the best interest not only of both contract parties, but also are done in the best interest of the community.
Framework for Cooperation
Research on public-private partnerships published in the journal “Sustainability” traces the model back to 15th century Italian city-states. Today, the researchers say, the model is effective for high-cost, high-visibility projects that involve social and technical complexities, with the potential to build in synergies, develop competencies and create an effective framework for cooperation, especially when community stakeholders and experts are involved from the start.
That’s certainly the case with local partnerships. Public-private partnerships that exist between Vail Valley Partnership and local government entities are prime examples and are important tools for fostering economic development. On a regional scale, work including the Smart Business Eagle County business retention and expansion program, the MyPartner Career Network trailing spouse program, the Eagle County Data Center, CareerWise Colorado youth apprenticeships and the continued implementation of the Eagle County Economic Development Plan are all the result of our public-private partnerships.
Another successful, long term, beneficial public-private partnership is with the Vail Local Marketing District, Beaver Creek Resort Co. and our lodging community to promote our region to meeting planners to attract groups, meetings and events. Groups and meetings are a large part of our tourism economy, and drive the economy during our off-peak seasons in the spring and fall. These efforts return over $1.21 in tax revenue for every tax dollar invested.
The EGE Air Alliance — another public-private partnership — is an additional case study. The Alliance seeks to maintain and grow air service, which benefits the community through job growth and economic development. In recent winters, EGE Air Alliance has helped generate a $200 million economic impact in Eagle County from visitors who used Eagle County Airport. The efforts of the Alliance keep our local economy and job market strong.
The commonality among successful public-private partnerships is that innovation results in better outcomes. The public sector provides funding to operate the program, and the private entity fulfills the contract terms. In Eagle County, this results in economic benefits, business tools, data resources and increased visitation — in turn, making Eagle County more competitive.
Chambers of commerce are fulfilling roles far beyond the ribbon-cuttings and community brochures they were known for in years past. We’re proud to partner with local governments to help build a stronger community through our public and private partnerships, and look forward to continuing these efforts to strengthen our community in years to come.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.