Vail Daily column: Economic growth as a campaign platform
Winter bookings and lodging occupancies are holding their own and ended slightly higher in December and January, as consistently good snow and steady demand have mitigated increasingly volatile economic news. Our booking pace continues to strengthen as we move through the season, yet February and March continue to lag behind last year’s pace.
Of course, our lodging bookings and tourism business is just one part of our continued economic growth. Our way of life is tied not only to our tourism economy, but also to the success of our entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Small businesses make up the bulk of jobs and career pathways in our community and, regardless of sector, are a key component of our economy. Wide-ranging items including workforce housing, workforce development, transportation and air service, technology and broadband service impact continued economic growth and community success.
Local, state and federal government plays a role in policy making that impacts these issues. So, here’s a piece of unsolicited advice to candidates running for local, state and federal office in this year’s election: Focus on economic policy. Economic growth as a campaign platform should have bipartisan support in our current political system gravitating toward hyper-partisanship.
Tom Donahue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recently shared his viewpoint that “growing the economic pie is the only realistic way to create jobs, lift incomes, reduce inequality and expand opportunities for all Americans.”
He’s right, and we’ve been on this path in Eagle County for a number of years.
Growing the economic pie has been a goal of our economic development efforts dating back to the 2013 creation of the Eagle County Economic Development Plan.
In the interest of building communities that can thrive, we must ask ourselves if the decisions, policies and programs that we pursue are likely to create outcomes that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable. Officials and decision makers must balance these three necessary elements — as they are self-reinforcing and help build strong communities.
A focus on economic sustainability ensures that policies and programs result in outcomes that are economically viable. It is needed to ensure policies and programs result in outcomes that are environmentally sound and protect our natural environment that helps drive our resort economy. A focus on social sustainability ensures policies and programs can result in outcomes that are acceptable to the community. Together, this comprehensive focus on economic, environmental and social sustainability works in concert to preserve and enhance our quality of life.
This framework should be a centerpiece of any office campaign, as it will help us maintain sustainable communities that attempt to balance these interdependent needs.
We remain focused on creating new opportunities and jobs within Eagle County by broadening the economic base in existing areas of strength and helping to support developing opportunity 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.
As you consider candidates at all levels to support in this election cycle, consider those who actively support growing the economy and building an environment in which businesses can succeed. Small business success is community success, and we’re working hard to build an environment where entrepreneurs and small business can be successful.
To find out more about the efforts of the Vail Valley Partnership to increase the economic vitality in the Vail Valley, visit VailValleyMeansBusiness.com.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.