Vails financial minds unite |

Vails financial minds unite

Melanie Wongmwong@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado Vail, Colorados economy is in what some might call unprecedented times, but many of the towns members community have come forward offering help and advice, including one group of prominent citizens and businessmen.The informal group, called Vail Citizens for Action, has spoken several times before the Vail Town Council and weighed in on issues such as the future of the hospital and how the town should use $10 million to bring guests to Vail.The group first formed last fall when retired investment banker and former town councilman Kent Logan gathered community members over lunch to discuss the economy. The group included Harry Frampton of Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate, hospital CEO John Cassin, Sonnenalp Resort owner Johannes Faesler, Gorsuch owner John Gorsuch, Axels owner Axel Wilhelmsen, Waddell & Reed Financial chairman of the board Alan Kosloff, former Vail mayor Rob Ford and Vail bankers Mark Ristow and Roger Behler.

In the early fall, the group felt the economy was about to get far worse than it was and foresaw some tough times for the town.In some respects, with the first meetings, we were a little ahead of the general public. We were concerned a year ago that some of the problems in the economy were likely to get larger and that the town needed to get ahead on it, Frampton said.The group advised the town that it needed to have a plan to boost Vails economy in the winter, suggesting that the town invest money in winter marketing and focus on building projects such as the proposed ski village Ever Vail and employee housing complex Timber Ridge.The informal group of 10 now meets on an ad hoc basis to give input to the town as economic hot topics arise. Most recently the group urged the council to spend nearly $10 million to market Vail during the recession. The money would come from a failed bid to build a conference center. Were just a bunch of old guys with some business experience, laughed Logan. Really were here to help the council think through some of the decisions theyll have to make.

The advice from the informal panel of experts is appreciated, Town Council members said.When the group warned of a rough winter in the fall, the town set aside $550,000 and worked with Vail Resorts and local businesses to market Vail.That was shrewd advice that the council listened to and acted on, said Councilman Andy Daly. We ended up with a better winter because of it.On fiscal topics, the group is a valuable sounding board, he added.I think they represent a solid cross-section of the business community, Daly said. They bring a maturity and a comprehensive business understanding as to what makes Vail work as far as sales taxes (and other) revenues. I think their interests are our interests.The town has also slashed its 2009 budget, hired a resort industry advisor to help Vail, and moved forward with rebuilding Timber Ridge all moves the committee also recommended.Anybody who gets involved in the town and comes forward with solutions is a valuable resource to the town, Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland said. They come forward from a very positive note, they have experience and talent, and are heavily involved in whats going on.

Kosloff said the groups members are a good cross-section of Vail citizens who are active in different areas.Kosloff is a financial expert as well as president of the Vail Homeowners Association. The group includes prominent investment experts, a real estate mogul, bankers who have their fingers on the pulse of Vails business community, and a hotelier and shop owners who see the day-to-day workings of Vails economy.We want to try and use whatever expertise we have to help the town government, he said.Wilhelmsen, owner of Axels boutique in the village, said he became involved because he wanted to stay informed as a longtime Vail resident and retail store owner.People from different professions and walks of life talk about things theyre involved in, he said of the meetings. Weve lived in Vail for a long time and have an interest in seeing Vail improve and improve.Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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