Vail Valley Partnership CEO: The team, or community, with the most talent usually wins (column)
October 18, 2018
The Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship — again — earlier this year and are heavily favored to win again this season. It's no surprise, really, as their roster is stocked with all-stars. Even a casual observer of professional basketball can recognize they simply have more talent than other teams in the league.
There is a lesson to be learned from the Warriors (much like the 1927 Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine of the 1970s or other sports dynasties over the years). While there are exceptions to the rule, history shows that the team with the most talent wins.
This analogy is also directly connected to communities; the "team" (community) with the most "talent" (workforce) will win. Economic health is directly tied to per capita income, and educational achievement equals increased per capita income.
Following this equation to its natural conclusion tells us that a key to Eagle County's continued growth and economic success is to focus on educational achievement and other ways to retain our talent. But educational achievement and talent alone won't address our labor shortfalls and retention issues. Continuing the sports analogy, the Warriors (or Yankees or Reds) didn't win on talent alone; the talent worked together to achieve great things.
Imagine what can be accomplished with teamwork and the team moving forward with a shared vision around our local community challenges. Increasing educational achievement results in increased per capita income, which results in improved economic health of the community. This approach requires a willingness to recognize that some things can't be accomplished alone, and that's OK.
The continued alignment of public sector, private sector, philanthropy and nonprofits is required. The school district can't do this alone; ditto Colorado Mountain College; ditto the business community. We have very real labor shortages and retention issues in key industries from hospitality to construction to technology to health care to first responders to teachers. Many businesses are expanding outside of (or moving outside of) Eagle County due to the lack of qualified workforce.
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Issues including housing and health insurance costs impact the ability to attract and retain a qualified workforce. Vail Valley Partnership's recent workforce study shows 76 percent of businesses are planning to expand the number of employees next year, yet businesses express frustrations with the availability and quality of the workforce.
More than two-thirds of businesses indicate they are experiencing recruitment problems.
Colorado is a true western state — complete with a spirit of innovation and independence. True to this model, Colorado is a ballot initiative state. This essentially means that not only do eligible voters elect representatives to make policy decisions, they also sometimes directly vote on public policy.
This direct democracy component of Colorado's civic structure is rare among states, and voters need to recognize the important decision-making role they play in building and maintaining thriving communities that can retain our top talent.
Your ballot includes numerous state and local issues that can be related to talent in our state and in our communities. Our quality of life depends on the collective choices we make. Elections are an important way we make these choices.
Your vote impacts the community, talent retention efforts and our collective team. Do your research with help from trusted sources such as the Blue Book before voting. Most important, be sure to vote, and remember that community assets aren't free.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.