What does ‘working together’ look like in Eagle, Colorado? | VailDaily.com

What does ‘working together’ look like in Eagle, Colorado?

Eagle Mayor Ed Woodland talks to a group of Eagle business owners Thursday at the Broadway Cafe. The group came together to talk about ways to boost Eagle’s business community.

EAGLE, Colorado ” Eagle, Colorado’s mayor told representatives of the business community Thursday that the town government will be happy to help with economic development. But what will that help look like?

The first steps toward answering that question may have been taken Thursday at an informal meeting between Mayor Ed Woodland and several local business owners held downtown at the Broadway Cafe.

“You all need to tell me what you need from us,” Woodland said.

The town of Eagle, Colorado’s 2008 sales taxes were down just 1 percent from 2007, Woodland said. But that slight drop in the big picture hides some significant drops in retail, lodging and other areas.

To help the town’s businesses ride out the current slump, Eagle Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Tim Cochrane urged business owners to work together on jobs, from educating local customers about spending their money in town to bringing people to town for events.

The main question, though, is what that cooperative effort needs to look like.

Both Cochrane and Woodland said it shouldn’t be the job of a regional chamber ” or a town government ” to lead the way. Rather, they said, a group of Eagle business owners ” representing all the different parts of town ” needs to get together to come up with a plan.

Once that plan is in place ” Cochrane said he hopes to have a group working on a marketing plan in the next 30 days or so ” the big question is how to pay for it.

The answer to that big question may ultimately land in front of voters. The town now charges a lodging tax, and the money is supposed to go to open space. There’s about $1 million in the account now, and the tax generates roughly $100,000 per year.

Woodland acknowledged that the tax doesn’t really generate enough money to buy much in the way of open space, and he said he’d be willing to listen to a proposal to allocate some of the money for other uses.

But, he said, voters would have to approve any other uses of the tax money.

While Thursday’s meeting was just a start, some of those who came said they’re willing to keep talking about how to bolster the town’s economy.

“We need to do it,” said Mike Courtney, general manager of the Silver Leaf Suites hotel in Eagle, Colorado. “There’ll be some bad ideas and some good ideas, but we need to learn from the bad and capitalize on the good.”

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