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Vail Daily column: Real-life ‘whack-a-mole’

You remember the old arcade game in which players use a mallet to hit randomly-appearing toy moles back into their holes? So much of running a chamber of commerce is similar to the old Whack-a-Mole game.

Let me explain. Much like Whack-a-Mole, chamber professionals never know where the next opportunity is going to be, and to be successful you have to be ever attentive and vigilant. Specifically, government can be a partner or an obstacle to business; the role of the chamber is to help ensure that local and state government is a partner, not an obstacle. It is a role that chamber groups are uniquely positioned to fill.

No business needs more obstacles to success, specifically those regulatory burdens placed upon them by government decree. We’ll continue to play Whack-a-Mole when these burdens to business pop up.



Chamber Day at the Capitol

Government can be a partner or an obstacle to business; the role of the chamber is to help ensure that local and state government is a partner, not an obstacle.

Earlier this spring, I was fortunate to attend Chamber Day at the Capitol. This day was sponsored by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and brought together chamber leaders from around Colorado to meet with our elected officials, and to share with them our community challenges and the needs of our businesses. We are fortunate to have elected officials who — regardless of positions — are open minded and willing to hear all sides of issues.



I was particularly interested in attending as part of Vail Valley Partnership’s continued effort to help advance the interests of our members, to ensure our elected officials know of the issues facing the Vail Valley business community and to try to make sense of the nonsense.

There was a panel discussion in which chamber heads from around Colorado offered their viewpoints on various issues of importance to their communities. Four different communities from four different parts of Colorado participated in the panel — specifically from the areas of Fort Collins, Fruita, Colorado Springs and Aurora — representing northern Colorado, the Western Slope, southern Colorado and the metro Denver area.

Each chamber head was asked to identify the top issues in his or her community. Fort Collins identified transportation; Fruita discussed regional broadband service; Colorado Springs mentioned workforce development; and Aurora brought up the hospital provider fee and construction defect legislation.



The issues identified are not unique to their towns or their regions. The issues raised by chamber leaders throughout Colorado are equally important here in the Vail Valley and impact our efforts to grow our economy. Transportation (I-70 and increasing air service to the Eagle County Regional Airport); increasing broadband service and redundancy; workforce development to meet business’ need for talent and to align workforce partners to build an even more cohesive regional workforce system; and regulatory issues such as hospital provider fee and construction defect legislation all create challenges and obstacles to business growth and success in our region.

Much like someone playing Whack-a-Mole, chamber groups need to remain diligent and pay attention to what is happening at the statehouse. The object of the Whack-a-Mole game is to force the pesky moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the score. The quicker this is done, the higher the final score will be. A successful Chamber of Commerce does the same thing, but instead of hitting moles with a mallet, we’re working with our elected officials to advocate on behalf of the business community and to tackle issues important to our members.

Reflecting on the issues addressed at Chamber Day at the Capital, there is one also at least one significant different between Whack-a-Mole and a chamber of commerce, and that is I’m not sure there is any real purpose achieved at the end of the Whack-a-Mole game, whereas for a Chamber of Commerce, building an environment that is conducive to business success provides great value to the community and helps make it a better place for business.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.


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