Vail Daily column: Economic development efforts continue
February 25, 2016
It is vital that we continue to take charge of our long-term economic future by actively building communities that are supportive of diverse local employers, attractive to new ones and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.
Businesses have better results when they operate in business-friendly communities where resources and partners are readily accessible. We've had a few good years of momentum and economic growth, but we're not out of the woods; there are risks and challenges to our rural resort economy that have the potential to negatively impact our community.
A bit of history: Eagle County's Economic Development Plan was created, adopted and funded for implementation by Eagle County government in late 2013 in an effort to impact our economic future and to build an environment where businesses can succeed. The plan was the result of a six-month public engagement process led by Vail Valley Partnership, and was designed to give private enterprise a voice in how Eagle County should best structure local economic development efforts to support economic vitality.
Prior to the development of the 2013 plan, historical efforts in the economic development realm were geared toward keeping up with growth and infrastructure demands. The Great Recession exposed the weaknesses of our tourism-dependent economy and awoke the community to the need for economic development efforts focused on the retention and expansion of current businesses and the recruitment of new businesses to Eagle County.
Since the plan's adoption, significant progress has been made in putting it into action. Vail Valley Economic Development now provides services across Eagle County and is housed within Vail Valley Partnership. Vail Valley Economic Development provides a single point of contact for economic and business development-related inquiries and responsiveness to area business needs. A countywide business brand was developed to raise Eagle County's profile as a viable place to do business. This brand is now communicated through the comprehensive countywide economic development website at http://www.vailvalleymeansbusiness.com.
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Similarly, several programs have been implemented to make it simpler for businesses and entrepreneurs to navigate community resources, gain support for their operations, and to learn more about our communities.
We are currently in the process of updating the county's economic plan. The purpose of the update is to build on what we've learned, acknowledge where progress has been made and outline the core objectives and strategies that our community should implement and build upon within the next three to five years. A community advisory panel is providing insight, expertise and feedback to ensure efforts support local sustainability.
The goal of the plan remains to promote the long-term economic health of Eagle County and solidify an economic base that is strong, diverse and resilient. Unchanged from 2013, the economic development plan is designed to create new opportunities within Eagle County by broadening the economic base in existing areas of strength and helping to support developing segments. These efforts will help increase sales tax revenues, grow and retain jobs, provide support for businesses to create year-round availability and build a business climate attractive to entrepreneurs.
Importantly, and aligned with the spirit of collaboration, the economic development plan is designed to supplement and support municipal-level economic development efforts, providing a tie to countywide, regional and state-level activities. In order to achieve the desired outcomes, the plan requires public sector leadership and participation for initiation and private sector participation for successful implementation
Our business community must continue to work together with our elected officials to put jobs, economic growth and the business opportunity first. The role of local government to provide an environment supportive to entrepreneurs must remain a top strategic focus. Efforts to support, expand, and celebrate the business community are essential to our continued community success.
This plan was developed with input from the community, and we hope you will share your thoughts and feedback with us to improve the plan moving forward.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.
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