Vail Daily column: Our individual communities strengthen the Vail Valley brand
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that there is no such thing as the Vail Valley. While geographically and technically true, it is undeniable that Vail plays an oversized role in our rural-resort economy. It’s also undeniable that we are much more than Vail and that we’d be shortsighted not to leverage the Vail brand to promote our valley as a great place to live, work and play.
The fact is, whether or not you embrace the term Vail Valley, it is a positive thing that our community is made up of individual communities. Each town and community in the valley can provide different services and fill different niches for our visitors, our second-home owners and our year-round residents. It allows each community throughout the valley to work together to address the critical issues (workforce housing, transit, environmental concerns, broadband access) facing us. It further allows us to all benefit from our primary economic driver of outdoor recreation and tourism, yet not necessarily have to deal with the impacts on each individual community. That’s the Vail Valley, it is a real thing, and the sum is greater than the individual parts.
In their own words, each community (from east to west) in the valley offers the following to residents and businesses:
Vail’s lifestyle combines one of the best alpine resorts in the world with a friendly, small-town feel. Vail’s economy is supported through a year-round viable business environment that meets the market demands of both residents and guests. Major redevelopment of much of the town has expanded and enhanced Vail’s pedestrian and commercial areas, which provides a strengthened tax base. A diversity of retail, lodging, dining, special events and service businesses, and both indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities funds a growing employment and revenue base.
The oldest town in Eagle County, Red Cliff, boomed at the turn of the century as a mining town with saloons, a bank, sawmills and even an opera house. Today, it is a quaint mountain community that continues to attract rugged individualists including entrepreneurs, artists and outdoor enthusiasts. Residents and visitors can enjoy mountain biking, cross-country skiing, kayaking, rock climbing and hiking with fantastic wildflower viewing, all within and around Red Cliff.
Just 2 miles south of Interstate 70, and only 10 minutes from Vail, Minturn was originally developed as a railroad town in the late 1800s. Today, Minturn’s quaint galleries and antique shops offer a peek at the past while the town bustles with contemporary business activity and attractions. During Colorado’s mining boom, it was an essential crossroad for the mountain railroad system. Over the decades, Minturn has gradually transformed into a tourist-based economy. One of the most popular events in the community is the Minturn Farmers Market, which runs weekly during the summer.
Eagle-Vail is a multi-faceted mountain community located in the core of the Vail Valley. Home to approximately 4,000 residents, Eagle-Vail has a robust commercial district offering close proximity to the world-class resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, and easy access off of I-70. Eagle-Vail’s residents enjoy a number of community amenities including the Eagle-Vail Golf Club, Eagle-Vail Swimming Pool, Eagle-Vail Pavilion, community parks, open space and trails for hiking, biking and trail running.
Avon is a progressive and welcoming community located in the heart of the Vail Valley, and serves as a major hub of activity for locals and visitors. Avon residents enjoy a strong sense of community and a family-friendly atmosphere. With 6,400 year-round residents and a significant part-time resident population, Avon offers a small mountain town atmosphere with many amenities and strong opportunities for local businesses. The town serves as the gateway to world-class Beaver Creek Resort and is just 8 miles west of Vail.
Edwards is an unincorporated residential and business community located just 4 miles west of Beaver Creek. The community is a commercial mecca that includes lodging, boutiques, restaurants, movie theaters, galleries and a variety of professional services. Edwards is also the home of a wide range of public and private educational institutions including a catholic school (preschool-8), a charter school (grades K-8), two elementary schools, a middle school, two high schools (Battle Mountain and Vail Christian) and the Edwards campus of Colorado Mountain College. Edwards has a population of approximately 10,270 (2010 census), which makes it the single largest community in Eagle County.
Located along I-70, just 30 minutes west of Vail and only a few minutes from the Eagle County Regional Airport, Eagle offers a unique opportunity for visitors to shop, dine and recreate in the heart of the magnificent Colorado Rocky Mountains. Eagle has a strong base population and a community vision that responsibly plans for the further expansion of all residential product types. This existing and locally growing population, combined with an extensive trade area, provides the opportunity to locate a new business or employment center in the greater Eagle downtown area. Eagle’s stable, enthusiastic, pro-business political leadership, coupled with a strong local business community, make Eagle an ideal environment to locate a new residential project or business.
Gypsum is a small Colorado community with a rich history, a warm atmosphere and vast recreational opportunities. Settled by pioneering ranch families in 1883 and incorporated in 1911, the community’s agricultural roots are evident to this day. With a robust business community offering a diverse array of local service and retail businesses, Gypsum operates as a major commercial hub serving the needs of the entire valley. The community takes a proactive stance toward economic development, and in 2014 issued $60,000 in grants to local businesses for capital improvements. Gypsum is home to Eagle County Regional Airport and has quick connections to cities all over the globe. The community also boasts some of the most competitively priced residential and commercial property available in the Vail Valley. Gypsum has been designated a Playful City USA for the past three years because of its 12 parks, 18-hole championship golf course, shooting range, fishing ponds, numerous points of access to BLM lands and its state of the art recreation center.
To our visitors, thank you for visiting the Vail Valley this summer. Be sure to branch out and explore all the communities within the valley. We’ve got something for everyone and encourage those interested in exploring business start-ups or relocation to our community to learn more at VailValleyMeansBusiness.com.
To our local business community, be sure to “save the date” for the annual Vail Valley Business Forum on July 23 from 8 to 11 a.m. to learn more about the need (and local efforts) to build a business-friendly Vail Valley. Details are available at VailValleyPartnership.com.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.