Vail Valley Partnership CEO: We need to believe in better; partnerships will help us do that (column)
Imagine an environment where our local government agencies worked in concert with our nonprofit community to create public and private partnerships that have real results, with real solutions to community challenges such as workforce, business retention, air service development, tourism promotion and employee retention.
Last week in this space we explored public-private partnerships and shared examples of meaningful programs with measurable track records of success throughout the valley. Our first responsibility — as a community, as elected officials, as engaged citizens — should be setting priorities and working together to achieve our targets. Our community deserves nothing less. It is the role of government, and those entrusted with tax dollars through government contracts, to work hard to ensure a positive return on those investments.
Consider Eagle County’s externally focused strategic goals, including to promote a diverse and resilient economy, to be a great place to live for all and to protect the natural environment.
The simple truth is that these goals require community partnerships; county government isn’t structured to achieve these goals on their own. Take the Climate Action Plan as an example; a group of over 30 stakeholders worked together during 2016 to develop the Climate Action Plan for the Eagle County community.
Since then, the Climate Action Collaborative has been formed to implement the recommendations of the plan. Letters of intent have been signed by the following members: Eagle County Board of County Commissioners, the towns of Avon, Basalt, Eagle, Minturn, Vail and Red Cliff, and by Colorado Mountain College-Edwards Campus, Eagle County Schools, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Eagle River Youth Coalition, Edwards Metro District, Holy Cross Energy, R.A. Nelson, Vail Resorts, Vail Mountain School, Vail Valley Foundation, Walking Mountains Science Center and the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District.
Partnerships are also required to address one of our biggest community needs: housing. Vail has set forth a strategic plan for maintaining and sustaining community through the creation and support of resident housing in Vail titled “Vail Housing 2027.” This sets in motion a strategic plan that proactively addresses the housing needs of the community. It is actionable in its implementation and changes the decision-making approach toward maintaining and sustaining homes for residents within the community.
This plan is ambitious and important; it will require public-private partnerships in order to achieve its goals. Many successful housing programs in the valley were built thanks to innovative public-private partnerships, including Miller Ranch in Edwards, Chamonix and Lions Ridge in Vail, and (coming soon) Spring Creek Village in Gypsum.
The commonality among successful partnerships lies in the trust between the participating parties (towns, organizations, government, businesses, people). Trust provides the foundation on which you build relationships. Trust is something we give, and something we receive. Most important, trust bonds us to others with whom we can achieve success — because successful partnerships result in greater outcomes than either party can achieve alone. The civic value of these partnerships extends beyond economic terms.
Seth Godin said it best: “Real trust (even in our modern culture) doesn’t always come from divulging, from providing more transparency, but from the actions that people take (or that we think they take) before our eyes. It comes from people who show up before they have to, who help us when they think no one is watching. It comes from people and organizations that play a role that we need them to play.”
I believe in better. Let’s get to work building and enhancing our public and private partnerships for the benefit of the community.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.
In terms of area, it’s the county’s smallest conservation deal ever. In terms of location, it’s one of the county’s rarest acquisitions.